This is an IDF analysis of President Putin’s game plan who is consolidating power in Ukraine, has bases in Syria by supporting President Assad with selected military attacks on Rebels and IS (USA- Saudi vs Iran), and continues close relations with Iran with supply of military hardware and is pressurizing the Baltics to keep out of NATO and Ballistic Missile Defence. Putin has put some Russia’s eggs in President Trump’s basket hoping sanctions are eased. ‘Read My Lips’ said shrewd President Putin.
India’s relations with USA and Russia need attention as President Xi Jinping the unknown, goes to meet Trump, to iron out their contentious issues including the South China Seas, North Korea and trade. Both need each other, and Trump has many other priorities than attend to India so he has invited PM Modi later this year
A famous idiom, “You cannot run with the Hare (Sic… Russia) and hunt with the Hounds ( Sic.. USA) and support two competing sides by courting two suitors. You’ve got to decide where you stand. You cannot have it both ways, and have both their cakes, and eat them too, as the fat Cat(Sic..China) watches”.
India proved the idiom wrong after Soviet Union collapsed and has grown in stature and has had it good with USA and Russia as it showed green shoots to shed ‘Non Alignment’ for ‘Strategic Autonomy’. USA’s President Bush Jr more and Obama less treated India with kid gloves with an unconsummated Nuclear Deal driven through NSG personally by Bush Jr with China’s top brass in a Quid Pro Quo for China’s Grandfather agreement for Pakistan’s nuclear reactors. Obama cleared defence technology and got India to sign LEMO for co-operation but BECA and CISMOA are still born for closer relations, awaiting Strategic Partnership rules to make in India under DTTI.
India skillfully used the Nuclear Deal to get accepted as a nuclear power and got US technology with latest 12 P8is with Raytheon and Telephonics radars Mk 48 Torpedoes and Mk 84 Harpoons, 10 C-17s, 12 C-130Js and soon 22 Apaches with missiles and 16 Chinooks and Space co-operation continued. India’s leadership and Diplomats need to be congratulated.
Hence PM Modi needs the continuation of FS Subrahmanyam Jai Shankar with extensions, as he flies around. So does NSA AK Doval looking after India’s rise with military heads as a CDS. A former Ambassador and Naval Chief in USA’s war college would also be reporting support, with friends in Pentagon and Foggy Bottom.
Russia is still looking for replacement for late Amb Kadakin their super Ambassador in Delhi. Russia still needs India as India needs Russia less but India cannot help in Afghanistan which Pakistan can. That is one key change.
Russia had little option but to continue support to India after cold war ended as India gave employment to Russian Defence Industry with Krivacks ($ 4 bill), aircraft carrier Gorshkov at Sevmash ($3 bill), 45 Mig -29Ks, refit of Kilos among other supplies SU-30MKI and spares supplies and T-90 tanks to Army.
But USA swiftly over took Russia as India’s largest foreign defence supplier. India became the world’s No 1 importer. Russia kept its promises and gave India nuclear submarines with nuclear safety and technology to build nuclear submarine bases and the INS Arihant, reported to be purring away under uranium power with fire and forget K-15/B-05 missile capability. The Arihant’s story is kept even away from non –nuclear Naval Eyes, so the nation does not know what an achievement it has been to emulate, as two more larger submarines follow with long ranged K-4 missiles in a DRDO-Navy PPP with Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T). No other nation may have done this.
Russia continues support for 272 SU-30MKI top fighters with long range missiles. Few know they scrapped 40 first supplied modified SU-27s and left most next to the IAF Lohegaon airfield and continued product support when Russia’s economy dipped in difficulty. Russia now promises, Make in India but takers are few unless government goads private Industry with sops and ASSOCHAM is discussing this.
The Navy got the darling missile, the fire and forget BrahMos which the West is still trying to ape. USA supported India’s entry to MTCR and soon BrahMos will be longer ranged with Army and Air Force too. All this and success of Agni- V gave China goose pimples, and today India stands as a power if its Structural Command and Control can be honed.
PM Modi and his RSS advisers in BJP as Secretaries Ram Mahadev and Rao who had visited USA even before Modi and BJP came to power. It was clear a mere CDS would not solve Indian military’s structure, so at Commander’s Conference in Dehra Dun PM it is reported rightly ordered a study to create Theatre Commands like Xi Jinping has done in China, and all nations have. IDF could structure that but will Chiefs agree ??
Russian economy seems reviving with oil prices but it views the ‘Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement’ (EDCA)with the US that RM Parrikar signed after ordering $ 15 bill of hardware as worrisome. Also Reliance Defence’s MOU to get 7th Fleet ships to be refitted in India and Indian Navy informally declined joint sea patrolling, worrying it may get sucked in to South China Sea.
RM Parrikar before demitting office nominated Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) to build two Krivacks (Gregorovich Class) and will probably be fitted out at MDL as a sop. This was promised to President Putin at BRIC Summit at Goa last September along with two Krivacks from Russia and T226 helicopters with HAL and ROSTEC. In Project 75India Russia tabled access to improved Kilo-class (Project 636 ‘Varshavyanka’) submarine construction technology to Reliance (Pipavav) & L&T under license, but media reports DCNS will get that contract. HAL and Air Force’s FGFA and FTA Russia awaits traction .
In this back ground Russia has provided 3 MI-35 Attack helicopters to Pakistan, signed a pipe line and power contract and Russian Navy carried out a basic Naval exercise with Pakistan Navy in September 2016 after attending the Conclave at Baharia Karachi university run by the Navy to train its engineers. Both armies have co-operated in anti-terror exercises and relations seem warming with Afghanistan and CPEC and Gwadar in sight and so India needs to see how it can contribute to balance USA and Russia as in the past.
Pakistan’s biggest challenge is its Frankensteinian terrorism and attacks so it is involving China and Russia. This Islamic terror and IS creates a challenge for India, which for years has been trying to engineer Pakistan’s isolation, but Pakistan’s geographic Pivot position attracts military and economic ties with key global players and investments and runs against New Delhi’s attempts to isolate it.
India is paranoid about development of CPEC, as it passes through regions of India, as both claim as nuclear-armed nations. CPEC could result in internationalization of their territorial dispute or surgical actions. Cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and Pakistan has grown in recent times.
A good example is that of a Russian delegation led by Deputy CGS General Sergi Yuryevich. He was accompanied by Pakistan Army brass and visited Miran Shah in North and Wanna in South Waziristan, the first ever to visit the conflict-terror base areas. They appreciated Pakistan Army’s efforts to clear FATA from all terrorists , and manage the border; “The delegation acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan Army’s achievements in the fight against terrorism and efforts to bring stability in the region.”
In recent years, Russia and India have seen communication gaps and somewhat cooler relations. While experts can continue to argue about the reason for Russia’s sudden shift towards Pakistan, IDF is clear it is India warming up to the United States, Russia’s traditional rival, that motivated Moscow to seek closer ties with Pakistan which struggles to get stability and its foot print in Afghanistan and China backs it to the hilt.
More and more frequently, India has been excluded from Russian foreign policy. Recently, Russia held trilateral consultations on regional issues and invited only Pakistan and China. India not invited to the talks to discuss Afghanistan, but it should have been and observer.
India has never enjoyed close ties with China, its traditional rival in the region, but it is likely to isolated from the two biggest power players of Asia – China and Russia – at the same time. So the question is India Russia Bhai Bhai cooling stands answered and IDF will watch Trump. Shan No Varuna.