What the article is about:
- The article talks about Russia’s decreasing influence in Eurasia and new opportunities for India in the region.
- GS2: Effects of policies and politics of countries on India’s interests.
- Russia’s traditional sphere of influence now under growing contestation, India will have to find new ways to secure its interests in Eurasia.
Why Russia in important for India:
- Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Delhi has largely relied on Moscow to buttress its role in the region
- For example, to counter the Taliban in Afghanistan in the second half of 1990s, India worked with Russia and Iran.
- Russia had also actively campaigned for India’s membership of the SCO despite China’s reservations.
- Russia was also ready to supply arms to India during its military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh in the summer of 2020.
Negative trends set by Putin’s Ukraine war:
- Russian invasion of Ukraine has alarmed its close neighbours, if Russia can claim that Ukraine had no right to independent existence and invade it, Moscow could do much the same to other republics that were part of the Soviet Union.
- As Russia weakens, conflicts are breaking out within its Eurasian sphere of influence. The dispute between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia shows that Russia’s capacity to control and mediate such conflict is declining.
What would be the ideal situation for India:
- The situation in which Russia is at peace with the west, manages the turbulence in inner Asia, keeps Chinese power in check and facilitates India’s engagement with the region.
- However, the reality is very different, Russia is locked in an unwinnable war with the west, is increasingly beholden to China, and struggling to retain its traditional primacy in inner Asia.
What should be done by India:
- India has long looked at Iran to gain geopolitical access to inner Asia. It must now tie up with it Arab friends like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to pursue large scale regional projects in Eurasia.
- The European Union, which is stepping up its engagement with the region through its eastern initiative, could also be an important partner for India in the region.
- The Eurasian vacuum created by the weakening of the Russian sphere of influence is unfamiliar geopolitical terrain for India, but it is full of new possibilities as well.