The Crimea Crisis: India does a balancing act

At a time when many countries have openly condemned Russia’s actions in the Crimea crisis, India has come forward as the only Asian power to back Moscow. This move came despite Russia’s immediate neighbor, China’s unwillingness to openly back the former as well as condemn it along with the Western nations. So why does India maintain an anti-Russian stance despite being prodded by the Western countries? Many regard the close political as well as military ties of both countries to be the main reason for the same. Other reasons include:

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Long standing relationship

India has enjoyed a favorable relationship with Russia for several years now with both countries holding similar values on issues like climate change and terrorism. Russia’s immense support in India’s globalization cannot be ignored as well. Russia has also readily used its veto in the UNSC to aid Indian interests in the past. This goes to show the close bilateral ties shared by both countries.


Bilateral military cooperation

Russia happens to be the largest arms supplier for India till date, accounting for nearly 75% of the total arms that were imported from 2009-13.

The two countries have also joined hands in the past to develop missiles like the BrahMos cruise missile and aircrafts like the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA). Russia also holds annual defense reviews with India on a ministerial level.


Other ties

In addition to these areas, the bilateral relationship between India and Russia extends to areas like energy and space exploration, etc. Russia has provided support for the construction of atomic power plants in India. Both countries have heavily invested in each other’s resources as well, with Russia focusing on India’s telecommunications and nuclear energy sectors and India focusing on hydrocarbons. The two countries are also in talks with Belarus and Kazakhstan to form a customs union that would boost commerce for all four countries by 2015.

India’s stance to support Russia has placed it among the list of other countries like South Africa and Brazil who have also supported the latter till date. Many analysts believe that India’s open support for Russia would intensify the bilateral relationship between both countries and lead to extended cooperation across several fields of work and research.

With all these factors of a multifaceted relationship at risk, India cannot afford to offend Russia. This would probably explain why it chose to support the latter’s moves in Ukraine rather than condemning them. India’s views at the UN General Assembly have also been seen as a proper balancing act between the Westerners and the Russians.

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