This is how the West wants to side with India

Bangkok India has recently only played a subordinate role in the travel plans of Europe’s top politicians. After Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit in 2019, only two heads of state and government from Europe visited the world’s largest democracy: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who formed a close partnership there shortly before the confirmed invasion of Ukraine with India. .

Given the war of aggression, which India has so far not denounced, the West is now counting on an unusually large-scale diplomatic offensive to win the subcontinent to its side. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is expected in India this Thursday, will get things started. He wants to persuade his partner Narendra Modi to distance himself from Russia.

At the weekend, he will be joined by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who also wants to discuss the Ukraine war. Finally, in early May, Chancellor Olaf Scholz had the opportunity to speak privately with the prime minister of India to take a more critical stance against Russia. He expects Modi in Berlin.

India’s stance on the conflict is crucial in efforts to isolate Russia internationally. The country of 1.4 billion people is the largest economy after China which has not joined sanctions against Russia. Instead of severing economic ties with Moscow, India expanded its business with the country. In the weeks following the start of the war, the government in New Delhi ordered almost as much oil from Russia as the previous year.

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India’s coal imports from Russia also increased significantly in March – to their highest level since early 2020. Analysts predict that the Kremlin will be able to cushion the consequences of the coal embargo imposed by the EU by increasing shipments to India and China.

Russia is India’s main arms supplier

In the midst of a domestic political crisis over the “Partygate” affair, which involved boisterous celebrations during strict coronavirus restrictions, British Prime Minister Johnson now wants to block India from providing economic support to Russia. At a cabinet meeting this week, he said Britain wanted to work with countries like India “to provide alternative sourcing options” and “diversify supply chains from Russia,” the government said.

It’s not just about energy, it’s about weapons: Russia has been India’s most important arms supplier for decades. In recent years, India has also expanded its arms deals with countries such as the United States, France and Israel.

>> Read also here: India wants to do business with Russia despite sanctions

However, the government in Moscow is still able to hold on to the top – in part because of the Kremlin’s willingness to also supply advanced weapons such as the S-400 missile defense system.

Johnson is now counting on deepening defense cooperation with India to reduce its dependence on Russia. This could include the production of British armaments in Indian factories. Making counteroffers rather than building pressure is the official strategy for getting India to reposition itself.

Solidarity demonstration for Russia in Calcutta, India

A dubious alliance with huge potential problems for the West.

(Photo: imago images/NurPhoto)

Recently, New Delhi has reacted very sensitively to criticism of Russia’s policies in India. Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has repeatedly accused the West of hypocrisy: Europe is buying every afternoon in Moscow as much energy as India has recently received from Russia, he said during a visit to Washington.

Johnson seems to be adjusting to this. He didn’t want to lecture India under any circumstances, he said. “With autocratic states threatening our peace and prosperity, it is imperative that democracy and friends stand together,” wrote on Twitter. As a major economic power, India is a highly valued strategic partner.

EU resumes free trade talks with India

The trip, which will take Johnson to Modi’s home state of Gujarat and then to New Delhi for official talks, is also meant to advance free trade negotiations that Britain and India began earlier this year. If a deal strikes, annual trade volumes could increase by the equivalent of more than 30 billion euros a year, according to government estimates. One of the points of contention is the demand for opening up India’s alcohol and dairy markets.

Commission President von der Leyen, who will be in India on Sunday and Monday, faces a similar balancing act between geopolitics and detailed trade issues. The Commission announced that it wanted to present “the EU’s perspective on current geopolitical challenges” and discuss the economic agenda between the EU and India with a focus on free trade. The European Union and India are expected to formally resume free trade talks in June after years of stalling.

>> Read also here: Putin’s Last Friend – These countries condone or support aggressive wars

However, the government in New Delhi sees the danger that dissent over Russia could jeopardize relations with Europe: “The European Union is India’s third largest trading partner. India wants to ensure that ongoing cooperation is not hampered by the pressure caused by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” a government official told India Today.

Hence, Modi’s upcoming trip to Europe serves to cultivate relations, which are clearly sorely needed. In Germany, he wanted to take part in the sixth Indo-German government consultation – a format that was supposed to take place every two years, but was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Modi is also planning a trip to Denmark and a visit to Emmanuel Macron – at least if he can survive as French President in the weekend elections.

Again: Modi meets Lavrov: India rolls out red carpet for Russia

Cheryl Tenny

"Thinker. Food advocate. Incurable coffee enthusiast. Communicator. Proud student. Zombie buff. Tv fanatic. Extreme troublemaker."

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