Russia has just announced postponement of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India from November 1 to December 24. Whatever the Indian Government or the Indian media say about the postponement, most probably, Russia has snubbed India. Russia feels that India has neither fully appreciated what Russia has done for it nor India is grateful for the fact that Russia lived up to the saying “A friend in need is a friend indeed” while India betrayed Russia when it was going through a very difficult period.
India took an extremely opportunist stand when the Soviet Union collapsed. India took a 180 degree turn and jumped into the American Camp. It was Russia which used its veto when America and the western countries tried to condemn India on Kashmir, in the U.N. Again, it was Russia which supplied India with the weapons, while America was arming its arch rival Pakistan. Russia helped India with the nuclear material when America and the other western countries tried to choke India’s nuclear supplies.
We can look at what happened in the Tarapur nuclear plant. Russia helped India in 2001 and 2006 while America and France tried to block the supplies. Russia helped India to maintain its integrity while America and the other western Countries were encouraging and helping the forces which wanted to disintegrate India.
Russia is particularly unhappy with India over India’s stand on the Systema’s investment and on the Koodankulam nuclear facility. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rodozin came to India to solve the disputes related to these issues so that the way can be paved for Putin’s visit on November 1. However, no satisfactory solution was found and Putin became very unhappy and decided to postpone his visit to December 24.
Even though, some immediate events triggered the present conflict, yet the underlying cause for Russia’s displeasure with India is the Indian tilt toward America. Russia feels that it helped India take on the trilateral challenge from America, Pakistan & China. For all practical purposes, we had an alliance of America, Pakistan & China against India and Russia. However, when Soviet Union collapsed, India instead of helping its time tested friend, not only completely abandoned it but actually joined the American Camp. Russia has been unable to forgive India for the betrayal of a friend in need.
As compared to India, China took a completely opposite stand. China felt that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, America has become very arrogant and aggressive. Moreover, the balance of power in the world has tilted toward to west. Therefore, China tried to curtail the American aggressive attitude and tried to restore the balance of power in the world. China helped Russia to stand up on its feet. Thanks to China, Russia has made a very big come back. Under Putin, Russia has regained much of its lost status in the world. One indicator of the growing Russian influence is that the vast majority of the Republics which broke away from the Soviet Union are rejoining Russia in one way or the other. All these countries are thoroughly disappointed with America and the west. They feel betrayed by them and feel that they are worse now than they were in the Soviet Union.
Two countries which were part of the Soviet Union and then joined the west are reconsidering their stand. These are Ukraine and Georgia. Ukraine had the Orange revolution and tilted toward the west. The Orange revolution has completely failed and Ukraine is gradually moving back toward Russia. Georgia, after taking a severe beating from Russia, has realized that it has to mend its fences with Russia.
India should learn from the recent experience of these countries. It should also learn from the historical experience of the two countries which used to be India’s close friends, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Both of these countries tried to befriend America and the west. They paid very dearly for their mistake. Why does India want to repeat their mistake? India should have no illusions that it is on the western list of the countries which have to be disintegrated. After the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, it is India’s turn now.
If India wants to save it self form the impending disaster then it has no other option but to revive its traditional friendship with Russia. Russia has very close relations with china. Therefore, it is in a position to influence the Chinese policy toward India. In the present situation, it is inconceivable that China can attack India without consulting Russia. Russia and China both look at India as a potential ally against the American hegemony. Therefore, despite the differences with India, China sees India to be in the same boat as far as the two countries are the victims of the western arrogance and aggressive behaviour.
India should also realize that Russia has a very big card which it can use against India, the Pakistan card. If India does not reverse its tilt toward America then Russia can start supporting Pakistan just like China did. This will be a nightmare for India because it can face almost complete isolation in South Asia. India cannot afford to lose Russia as a friend. India should be really concerned about Russia’s anger at India’s pro-American policy. As soon as possible India should try to correct this tilt and convince Russia that it is genuinely interested in restoring the traditional friendship with Russia. Otherwise, the consequences can be disastrous.
Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at [email protected].