Foreign policy under Modi vis a vis US and Russia
Since the war between Ukraine and Russia, a number of analysts have argued for India to change its foreign policy to support the US and distance itself from Russia. Their justifications range from moral precepts to India’s need for US assistance in keeping China in check in the Indo-Pacific area. They also make the distinction between Russia’s tight ties to China and the US’s opposition to China and adherence to the adage that an enemy’s enemy is a friend, which is why India needs to get closer to the US. They have criticised India’s stance on not denouncing Russia and not participating in UN voting. However, their arguments ignore the facts on the ground, which force India, like all other nations, to follow a policy of a balanced approach in its strategic interests.
It must be acknowledged that India requires cordial ties with both nations. It needs Russian assistance in the Central Asian nations, and it now needs Russian gas and oil to meet its needs. With China’s continued salami-slicing moves along India’s northern border and China’s penetration into India’s sphere of influence, the Indian Ocean region, India requires US assistance in the Indo-Pacific. India faces a number of geopolitical problems as a result of the growing US-Russian engagement on the Ukraine crisis. However, choosing one over the other in simple alignment is not the answer. Due to the multipolar nature of the modern world, India has opportunities to act nimbly in order to attain its strategic goal. India benefits from not being constrained by military alliances. India must identify and take advantage of contradictions produced by international relations in order to further its national goals. In line with this, India has strengthened ties with the US, managed China, strengthened ties with the EU, reassured Russia, and is cooperating closely in key areas. It has also engaged with Japan and built strategic ties with Australia.
In April 2015, the BJP’s national executive, led by Modi, enunciated panchamrit (literally, five sacred foods), that is, the five pillars of his foreign policy: sammān (dignity, honour), samvād (engagement, dialogue), samriddhi (shared prosperity), suraksha (regional and global security) and sanskriti evam sabhyata (cultural and civilizational linkages) and this is what at play in today’s foreign policy objectives of India.