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Chill or no chill in Indo-Russian relations

New Delhi, Mon, 12 Nov 2007 Pallavi Sharma

Newstrack India

Nov 12: Though foreign secretary of India, Shiv Shankar Menon rejected the reports of ‘chill in Indo-Russian relations’ but this is something difficult to hide. Anyone can sense the frostiness in the relations by the fact that Russia has officially ruled out any possibility of signing any nuclear deal with India and during the cut-short visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Russia taking excuse of the guidelines and rules of IAEA and NSG.

The deal could have allowed Russia to build four additional nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu but made captive of Indo-US nuclear deal. This is to be reminded that a protocol of intent for four additional light water reactors was signed in January when Putin was on state visit to India.

How ‘hot’ the relations are can be gauged from the fact of controversy of the classification of the visit of our Prime Minister.

Before leaving Manmohan Singh talked of the high priority India attaches to the partnership with Russia but this is least likely to be reciprocated this time. N-Deal is not the only glitch in the relations, long trail of issues pending to be resolved, Prime Minister is likely to raise such as delays in arms delivery, rise in prices and many more.

Foreign secretary and national security adviser tried hard to pose a warmth in the relations but hardly successful. This should not be taken a sudden stance of Russia as this is just a chronology of her earlier policy shift that took U-turn since 1986 Gorbachev being the catalyst.

In view of the current developments taking place with Russia one quest spontaneously comes to mind do we need to have a review of foreign policy of ours and a fresh analysis of that of Russia? Once India and Russia enjoyed intense economic, political and military co-operation why it has come to such doorsteps? Indo-Russian co-operation was at its peak in 1971 when it signed peace treaty with India as it was a clear-cut preference to India over China.

It was Gorbachev who engineered the entire shift in policy giving priority to China in her foreign policy followed by Yeltsin and of course Putin too. He called for a new China policy and end to a China encirclement policy.

Freezing of ties it cannot be called but the cooling of Indo-Russia relations started simultaneously. Earlier mainly two factors forged a strong relation between India and Russia and these were containment of China and Pakistan from Indian side and reach to third world countries from Russian side.

Foreign policy document of the Russian federation, July 10, 2000 can be cited as a testimony of the obvious priority to China. Continuous negligence of official visitors from India and a low level of bilateral trade (1.8 billion) between two countries very clearly send the message of drift.

In view of the growing strategic coalition between Russia and China, India needs to rethink about the relationship. India and Russia have been long-term friends no doubt about that but even this should be kept in mind that there are no permanent friends or foes in international relations only permanent interests.


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