Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 May 2018 11:41:18

THE strategic importance of the informal summit between Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin cannot be driven home unless the global geopolitical situation is understood in the larger perspective. In the given situation, the informal summit between the two leaders was almost a necessity for both, as a leveraging point to attain a better balance of power in the otherwise disturbed world in which many leaders seem to be itching to foment trouble in this or that manner. The Modi-Putin summit, held at the initiative of the Russian President who is in the fourth term at the helm, therefore, has an immense importance from multiple angles. 

Even as Mr. Vladimir Putin starts his new term as President of Russia, he is faced with a rather hostile occupant of the White House in Washington. Let alone the diatribes in which United States President Mr. Donald Trump indulges in habitually, the US does not view continuance of Mr. Putin at the Kremlin in a friendly light. Washington is apprehensive of the stated ambition of Mr. Putin to bring his country back to the height of glory that it enjoyed during the early years of Cold War.
It is against this background that Mr. Putin is engaged in strengthening friendships with as many nations in the world as possible with hope of acquiring a strategic leverage for himself. The initiative to have an informal summit with Mr. Narendra Modi is an integral part of that strategic spread which Mr. Putin is looking at. With its growing importance in world affairs, Mr. Putin finds India as one of his best allies in the stated and unstated global race for supremacy. For Mr. Putin, India has a unique advantage of being the friend of the United States, and an effective counter-weight against China.

Almost a similar logic applies to India as well. For, even as India is engaged in a tug-of-war with China on multiple issues, it would be happy to have Russia as an effective counter-weight against Beijing on the other side of the Eurasian landscape. Also, India may also need the Russian closeness as an answer to a possible Pakistan-tilt in Washington. The informal summit between Mr. Modi and Mr. Putin takes care of many of these dimensions in a confusing global scenario whose principal focus is likely to be in the Asian region in the next some time, thanks to the Korean issue, the ill-defined South China Sea conflict, the economic corridor China is planning, and various issues of international trade. In such a scenario, a strong bond between India and Russia will be of immense value to both the countries.

For the past seventy years, India and Russia have been close friends. Historically, the two countries have shared many common interests. The summit reminded both the leaders of this historical reality, as Mr. Modi rightly said. He believes that the informal summit will certainly strengthen the friendship and strategic association between India and Russia. When the two powerful allies stand together on many international issues, the synergy will act as a critical factor in balancing of the global equations. Both the leaders showed a distinct awareness of this.

Of course, for India, the diplomatic challenge is of a greater gravity. For, in order to keep itself acceptable on all platforms, India will have to re-fit itself in the old non-aligned mould. This will be easier said than achieved in the changing diplomatic scenario. When India was vociferously promoting the concept of non-alignment, the world was less complex a place. Today, however, the complexity of the global geopolitics will make things difficult for India to attain a fair balance between its conflicting imperatives. Thanks to such imperatives of all the countries, the diplomatic narrative of the world has changed. For India, this new challenge will be a critical test of its strategic maturity.