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Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg June 1, 2017. Modi and Putin will hold an informal summit May 21 in Sochi, amid U.S. sanctions against Russia. (Dmitry Lovetsky/AFP/Getty Images)

India has started asserting independence in its foreign policy. India has made it clear to the U.S. that it is going ahead with its decision to procure the long-range missile system S-400 in spite of the American pressure to not go through the deal. India wants this deal insulated from the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. India feels that Russia is its time-tested friend and the largest and the most reliable supplier of arms for its defense needs. The S-400 is the most advanced missile system in the world and India wants to deploy this on its 4,000 kilometer border with China. India feels that it should have complete freedom in determining and fulfilling its defense needs.

Russia has always helped India in meeting its defense needs and remains the largest source of India’s weaponry, particularly the heavy weaponry. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the weapons of the Indian army are of Russian origin. Russia has always made its most advanced and sophisticated weapons available to India and has also made its most advanced nuclear technology available to India. Compared to the Russian attitude, America and the western countries have been much more stringent and less generous when it comes to providing advanced weapons as well as technology.

India is not comfortable with America’s unilateralist policies which completely disregard other countries’ needs and priorities and only take into consideration its own interests. India is getting increasingly frustrated with American attitude. India feels that America wants to use India according to its own requirements without showing any consideration as to how its policies will affect India. This is in complete contrast to the Russian attitude, which takes into consideration mutual needs and requirements.

It seems that India’s change in attitude is not just a transitory phase but reflects a basic change in India’s policy. India wants to follow a more independent polic,y which shows a distinct shift to the East. Russia helped India to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and is now helping it to become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union. Both countries are active members of the BRICS organization. Over the last few years Russia has gradually shifted to the East from its West-leaning policies of Gorbachev and Yelstin. Putin finally corrected these policies, which proved disastrous for Russia. Putin’s shift to the East has strengthened Russia and restored its place in the world. It seems that India is going to follow the course taken by its most trusted friend.

Arrogant and arbitrary American policies are not only frustrating countries like Russia, China and India but are also hurting America’s European allies. The time has come for Russia, China and India to take the leadership and change the American-led unipolar world order to a multipolar world order. The present American-led exclusive globalization also needs to be changed to a more inclusive globalization. There seems to be emerging a broad consensus on these points in Asia as well as in Europe.

Reviving and strengthening the traditional Russia-India friendship is not only in the best interest of the people of both countries but also in the best interest of the people of Asia and the people of the world. Russia has very good relations with China and it can help India to improve its relations with China. This can help in promoting peace and harmony in Asia. This will be a great contribution to the cause of world peace. India’s traditional role as a leader of the world non-alignment movement has been more of a peace broker. Reviving its traditional friendship can help India to play its traditional role in world affairs.

Sawraj Singh

Via E-mail

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