Multi – Alignment, A new version of Strategic Autonomy

Context:

• There has always been a pro – Russian image among Indians which was deep rooted at the time of cold war.
• But now amidst the sanctions Russia is facing and India’s growing closeness with the west specially post-cold war has put India’s diplomacy to multiple challenges.

Background:

• Western countries have criticized India’s repeated abstentions at the UNSC on the issue of the Russian invasion, while the Kremlin has praised India for taking an “independent and balanced” position.
• While India has not cared much about Western criticism of its “independent” approach to foreign policy, it is the Russian angle this time which has come to restrain India’s strategic autonomy.
• President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine has put New Delhi in a foreign policy conundrum that will not disappear soon because Russia’s action has changed the global order.
• The Western world has imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia and banned energy imports.
• New Delhi is concerned about the impact of these sanctions on global finance, energy supplies, and transportation, amid growing signs that they will constrain India’s ability to import Russian oil.

Challenges India will face:

• Considering the economic condition of Russia, it is known that the dependence of Russia on China will increase.
• This will have severe impact on Indian interests in the region.
• The QUAD’s support is necessary for India in dealing with Chinese assertiveness in the Indo Pacific.
• But the western countries are unhappy about the abstentionist approach on the international forums whereas Russia is happy stating that India is taking an independent stand.
• The doctrine of ‘multi-alignment’ is the 21st century avatar of strategic autonomy as India has been expanding its engagement with all the major powers.
• The Soviet Union was seen as a trustworthy partner against Western hegemony.

Tarnishing image of Russia

• If Russia was once a nuclear-armed superpower, it now appears to be acting like a nuclear-armed bully.
• Russia is in a state of flux under Mr. Putin, swinging wildly from one crisis to the next. As a result, in these uncertain times, it is extremely perilous for India to pursue imprecise goals with Russia.

Way Forward:

• It is not going to be easy for New Delhi to maintain its balancing act in the future as Washington hardens its position further.
• It is inevitable that during this time of diplomatic and strategic uncertainty, New Delhi needs to be ready to radically redefine its relationship with Moscow.

Source: THE HINDU

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