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Russian role in the relations between India and China

Russia would like to overcome the mistrust between India and China, because alleged escalation can be used “by other powers” to destabilize the situation in region in the regard to recent military actions between Indian and Chinese troops over the disputed border.

It was said by Russian minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov during his press conference that he was happy to provide his Indian and Chinese partners a platform for “very well timed” meeting.

Later, Russian deputy envoy to India Roman Babushkin told:

“Moscow would like to avoid lack of trust between our independent partners India and China. Escalation between the 2 countries has to be avoided for peace between the neighbors. The state of affairs here is a matter of regional stability, while escalation can be misused by outside powers in geopolitical purposes to create further alienation lines in the region.”

Over the last few months, Chinese and Indian troops have been involved in aggressive posturing at multiple locations along the two nations’ de facto border, known as Line of Actual Control, raising tensions between the countries which have nuclear weapons on strategic duty.

The trilateral talks involving the Foreign Ministers of India, Russia and China have triggered an “unreasonable hope” in a section of Indian media and some “over-enthusiastic” analysts, who are foreseeing “New Delhi getting into Moscow’s strategic plans”. Some even feel that Russian President Vladimir Putin may influence the Beijing leadership, for the closeness he boasts with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, asking the latter “to resolve the Ladakh stand-off and maintain status-quo on the Line of Actual Control,” in a way a “virtual” victory for New Delhi.

However, this plan is too optimistic to become the future. Undoubtedly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “multi-polar diplomacy” has made significant advance globally and the nation stood firm with Russia and his “close friend” Putin, despite the threats of US sanctions as the result of purchasing S400 air defence system. India has purchased jets from Russia in the heat of its stand-off with China on the LAC and has just concluded this weekend its 11th joint naval exercise.

Professor Deepa M. Ollapally, Associate Director at Sigur Center for Asian Studies in George Washington University, says: “Moscow does not want to be in the position of having to choose between China and India. It cannot afford to alienate China just now for economic and global political reasons, but it definitely does not want to ‘lose’ India either.”

There is a strategic reason for Russia to play this balancing game, explains Ollapally. According to him, Russian economy has significant problems and it is crucial need to maintain military partnership with India to receive long-time contracts and orders for Russian military factories. At the same time China is also extremely important importer of Russian resources.

Anyway, it’s not in Russia’s own interest to build up China’s defence capabilities without limits. Russian way is to maintain fragile balance between regional giants, who have long-time conflict.

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