Riding on oil, gas and arms export Russia is rising like a phoenix and is trying to build a world order parallel to the one conceived by the USA. In doing so, it has unleashed an intense, carefully calculated and calibrated psycho-war especially against the USA and India. Despite the Russian P.M. Viktor Zubkov’s two day visit to India which he described as a ‘trusted friend’ of Russia, the psycho-war is still on. Let us briefly examine how all these happened, what the reflexes are, why the two need each other and what India should do to progress towards peace and prosperity as an independent and sovereign state.
How the psycho-war against India started:
- All was well between India and Russia. Suddenly India, under NDA rule, supported the American missile defense initiative. Russia was stunned and alarmed.
- Then the UPA coalition govt. came to power and signed ten-year defense agreement with the USA.
- Next the INDO-US NUCLEAR DEAL at once gladdened and threatened the Russians. Russia was elated at the prospect of huge nuclear commerce with India. But the Nuclear deal could bring India into the American foreign policy mechanism. The reference to Iran was such a pointer.
- Furthermore, the US policy initiatives like Logistic Supply Agreement and Proliferation Security Initiative made Russia even more suspicious.
- India’s dithering over joining the US missile defense network consisting of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Israel unnerved the Russians.
- Russia in its quest to bring a new global world order, parallel to that of the USA, strove hard to form the India-Russia –China axis. That dream was completely shattered when India developed cold feet over Shanghai Co-operation Organization (S.C.O) and brought China under its strategic scanner.
- India presumably under US pressure voted twice against Iran in the UN over the nuclear issue. This was interpreted by the critics as India’s subjugation to the US worldview to get the Indo-US nuclear deal passed. This also marked India’s departure from the longstanding policy line on Iran.
- Russia, to its consternation, saw the rise of Israel as the second-largest exporter of arms to India. India sought help from Israel notably in the domain of electronic warfare like radars, sensors, night vision equipments and special force equipments and so on. In the matter of air defense system, air-borne early warning and control system and even in military space program the two nations started extensive collaboration. The Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and control system, the Barak anti-missile system, the unmanned aerial vehicles like Herons and Searchers and the recent launch of an Israeli Spy Sat Tesar became potent symbols of the intensity of Indo –Israeli co-operation.
- India began to import military hardware from Europe extensively. The British AJT Hawks and the French Scorpene submarines are such instances. India’s recent quest for light weight howitzers may also see the European way.
- Above all, the emergence of the USA as the military partner of India is worrying Russia extensively. India’s recent effort to acquire 126 multi-role fighters has again brought the USA under Russian scanner. Some consider the MRF deal as a natural corollary to the Indo-US Nuke deal. India’s recent agreement with the USA to buy six C-130 heavy-lift planes also has deepened the Russian suspicion. The large amphibious vessel USS Trenton also proved the intensity of the Indo-US engagement. Thus India’s transition from a steadfast Russian ally to a US partner has sent shockwaves through the Russian heart and Russia is adopting several well calculated and calibrated psycho-strategies to keep India on its boat.
The Russian Reflexes
- When the Indo-US bonhomie began to grow, Russia was concerned about its military technologies landing in the US hands through India. Therefore it pressed India to sign IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) agreement.
- The visits of the Indian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister witnessed unexpected coldness from the Russian side.
- India’s construction of an airbase in Tajikistan has faced resistance from the Russian side. Russia is again concerned about the Indo-US bonhomie and the possible moves of the USA in the central Asia.
- The Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal has become the most vexed issue between the two countries. Russia has almost doubled the price of the aircraft carrier. The Indian navy chief strongly objected to the Russian move and called for a review of the Indo-Russian relations and warned against the re-opening of the deal.
- The much-hyped Indo-Russian Brahmos supersonic cruise missile has also come under attack from a former chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. He raised the crucial issue of India not possessing the technology to manufacture the missile’s liquid fuel ramjet engine before the defense minister in a presentation. His implications were that India would be in a tight spot if the Russians pulled out.
- Fresh concerns have been raised about Russia “restricting” transfer of technology for T 90 tanks. A senior defense ministry official has blamed Russia for refusing to part with technology required for making the tank’s barrel and armor plates.
- The delivery of the Akula class nuclear submarine to India has been delayed by Russia as a pressure ploy to let India realize its worth. The nuclear submarine is the most powerful arm of the nuclear triad and herein lies the Russian sensitivity.
- But in spite of all these the two nations need each other urgently. They can not drift away from each other so easily. Let us see why they need each other.
Why India Needs Russia
- Almost 70% of the Indian military hardware is of erstwhile USSR origin. Hence India is to depend on Russia for servicing, repair and sourcing of the parts from Russia.
- India, being a nuclear power, needs to strengthen its third and most important leg of the nuclear delivery system-the underwater capability. The nuclear submarine is essential as India’s offensive platform. But no one will supply such a sophisticated platform to India except Russia, not even the USA because the Indo-US bonhomie is only at the initial stage now.
- The aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, is essential for India’s blue water capability.
- India has signed the GLONASS (Global Navigational Satellite System) agreement with Russia. This is an alternative to the US Global Positioning System and can help India land its missiles on the intended target with pinpoint accuracy. This is also essential for India’s proposed aerospace command. This can also help India in its indigenous and effective missile defense system.
- Historically, Russia has been a reliable weapons supplier to India and has helped it in its times of crisis.
- Russia supports Indian emergence in the global platforms .Thus it supports a permanent seat for India in the UN Security Council.
- The Indo-US nuclear deal requires IAEA approval and the NSG support. Russia can help India in all these platforms to lift the sanctions over India.
- Russia has been the most important partner of India in the nuclear field. It can help India with fuels and reactors.
- Russia is an important source of oil and gas. India is one of the largest consumers of fuel. Russia can help India sustain its industrial development and economic progress by providing oil and gas etc.
- Russia has strong relations with China. It is the largest importer of Russian arms. So the Russian clout can be used in dealing with China. Besides, Russia does not supply sophisticated arms to Pakistan because of Indian concerns .So Indo-Russian relations are essential for these reasons too.
But it is not that India only needs Russia. In fact Russia, too, needs India.
Why Russia Needs India
- Russia, has been earning billions from the Indian defense market. In fact, India is one of the largest importers of arms in the world. So to sustain the Russian economy, it must get a slice of the Indian military market.
- To bring multi-polarity in this world, Indian participation is essential for Russia .In fact, India is emerging as a strong military and economic power. It will not be possible for the world to overlook India for long.
- If Russia loses India, its loss will be the USA’s gain. The USA will get a strong partner and a huge defense market.
- Russia can sell oil and gas to India worth of billions of dollars. In fact, India is one of the largest consumers of fuel.
- Russia’s nuclear industry gets the maximum pie of the Indian nuclear market.
- India is an important and trusted partner in the joint development and research of sophisticated weapon systems. Indian participation will be more important in future considering the huge inflow of funds and the scientific prowess required for such programs.
- The GLONASS agreement has proved India can be the sole partner of Russia in the field of military space co-operation.
- Above all, Russia too like India, is rising. It needs all the positives to grow and prosper as a Nation. Antagonizing India can have can have a disastrous consequences for Russia not only in the field of economy and defense but also in the field of diplomacy.
What India Should Do Now
- First of all, India must convey to the world that it is a strong, independent and sovereign nation. It will decide what it thinks is in its national interest. It should not succumb to any undue pressure.
- India should try to bring a rapprochement between Russia and the USA .It should follow Pakistan which brought a rapprochement between China and the USA and utilized both of them to its own advantage .India should mediate to allay Russian fears over the USA’s missile defense, Nuclearisation, space weaponisation, NATO expansion and color coded revolution engineered for regime change.
- India should identify and expedite several civilian and military projects to restore the Russian confidence.
- India should engage with Russia in the civilian and military space programs.
- India should convey to the USA that it will never act against Russia and both are important to India.
- Finally, India must strive to build a world order where all the nations will co-operate against terrorism and imperialism and ensure economic and social prosperity for the whole world.