On January 26, the people of India will celebrate the Republic Day. Seventy years ago, on January 26, 1950, the Constitution of India entered into force, proclaiming the country a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic. This year is a double anniversary for the country — 90 years ago, on January 26, 1930, the Indian National Congress that led the national liberation movement officially declared fighting for India’s complete independence of the British Empire as its goal.
India has much to celebrate on the 70th anniversary on the Republic. In 2000 and 2017 alone, the country’s economy grew 3.3 times, whilst its contribution to the gross world product in terms of purchasing power parity in 2017 (7.4 per cent) became the world’s third-largest after China and the United States’ respective indicators. Its armed forces are the world’s fourth-strongest behind the United States, Russia and China. India has nuclear missiles and a space programme comparable to those of Europe, China and Japan. The technological breakthrough made by the country has been particularly evident in the rapid development of information technologies. Since the early 2000s, India has been the world leader in IT exports and has dominated the global IT outsourcing market.
Russia and India are close friends and partners. It is not only a matter of common roots: the Russian words for “mother” (mat’), “brother” (brat), “fire” (ogon’), “light” (svet) and even “husband’s brother” (dever) and “husband’s father” (svyokor) are virtually the same in Sanskrit, from which all Northern Indian languages originate. The Russians did not go to India to conquer it. The images of the faraway magical land of India inspired Russian thinkers, poets, composers and artists. The cultural influence was mutual: Leo Tolstoy’s great influence on the views of Mahatma Gandhi is well known.
In the seven-plus decades of their diplomatic relations, Moscow and New Delhi have successfully built stable strategic, military, economic and diplomatic ties. Thousands of Russians took part in building industrial facilities in India. Military equipment manufactured in Russia accounts for a significant part of the arsenal of the Indian Armed Forces. Tens of thousands of Indian engineers, doctors and other professionals have been educated in Russian universities. Russian and Indian scientists have close ties, and their joint work spans a large number of fields, from applied medicine to space exploration. Indian tea, coffee, spices, medications and other consumer goods are extremely popular in Russia.
Regardless of their outward differences, Russia and India face many similar tasks both domestically and internationally. Domestically, both need to ensure inter-ethnic and social harmony within multimillion, poly-ethnic, and poly-denominational states. The examples of Kashmir and Chechnya helped the two countries gain an insight into the evils of aggressive nationalism, religious extremism, terrorism and separatism sooner and more clearly than others.
Opposition to the attempts to establish unipolar leadership in global affairs also deserves mention. Russia and India are democratic states that adhere to the principles of democracy in their domestic affairs, which in turn determines their general commitment to democratic conduct in international affairs. India was among the countries that were instrumental in the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement, which as early as the first years of the 1960s was pointing the international community in the direction of the polycentric word order that is so actively discussed today.
Russia and India are also united by the fact that Muslims form the second-largest denominational community in both states. And we are not talking recent migrants, as in Western Europe today, but rather people who have for centuries lived side-by-side with Orthodox Christians in Russia, and with followers of Hinduism and other Indian religions in India. Russia and India’s long-standing engagement with Islamic history, and their geographic proximity to the leading Islamic states, determine both the special place of the two countries when it comes to the most urgent issues that concern the Islamic world today and their special role in handling problems related to the Middle East, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
From the very beginning, the independent India set itself the goal of becoming a leading global power. However, for a long time, its international actions were bolstered solely by its moral authority and the support of friendly Asian and African non-aligned states. To join the “major league of international players,” it needed powerful economic, scientific, technological and military potential, something it has today.
India’s objective for the near future is to entrench itself as the key power of the region that spans the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. India hopes to overcome the negative geopolitical consequences of the 1947 division of the former British India into India and Pakistan along religious lines. Not only did this division result in the ongoing conflict with Islamabad over Kashmir, but it also cut India off from culturally related countries and its natural markets in Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and the Persian Gulf states.
The incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given New Delhi’s international activities in this area a measure of confidence and assertiveness. Since the early 1990s, governments in India have pursued the Look East policy, which involved expanding economic ties and political interaction with the states of Southeast Asia. Under Modi, Look East been transformed into the Act East Policy, which is intended to both stimulate India’s economic growth and align its strategic priorities with those of its leading partners in the Asia Pacific, namely Vietnam, the ASEAN as a whole, Japan and Australia. The Act East Policy is ultimately intended to expand and boost India’s regional and global role.
Look East is supplemented with Look West, which is geared toward the Persian Gulf states. This policy has several far-reaching goals. First, the Persian Gulf is a major economic partner, home to over 6 million Indians and the principal source of oil and gas. Second, the region has long-standing historical ties with India — not only is it close neighbour, it is also a connecting link with Central Asia and Afghanistan.
Third, “Look West,” as some analysts in India have noted, is also intended to give an impetus to changes in the relations with Islamabad in the future, when, instead of being a wall between India and the Persian Gulf region, Pakistan would become a kind of bridge between them. India, in turn, would become Pakistan’s “gateway” to Southeast Asia. India appears to be banking here on Pakistanis stepping over 70-year-old dogmas regarding Kashmir and eventually realizing that cooperation with India in the Persian Gulf could be far more profitable for them than confrontation. A reconciliation between India and Pakistan would have a significant economic effect both for regional economic integration and for broader interregional cooperation between the states of Central Asia, South Asia and the Persian Gulf.
Unlike the United States, Western European countries and China, Russia has never had a conflict of interests with India, nor is one likely to appear in the future. The increasing role of India—a country that is friendly towards Russia — in international affairs, be it globally or in the Middle, Near or Far East (given India’s significant economic presence in all those regions and a populous Indian community there) would objectively decrease the urgency of the foreign political challenges currently facing Russia.
Russia–India relations hold independent value for both countries. India is sympathetic to Russia’s international actions. During the Soviet era, New Delhi did not condemn the deployment of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Nor has it joined the chorus of those condemning Crimea’s incorporation into Russia today. New Delhi also supports Russia’s stance on Syria, declaring that it would never use sanctions against Moscow. Historically, India’s regional and global interests have largely coincided with those of Russia, rather than the other great powers. India’s most important and complicated foreign political issues are concentrated in its relations with China and Pakistan as it has been involved in armed conflicts with both countries. New Delhi understands that these issues cannot be resolved without Russia, just as the Look East and Look West policies cannot be fully implemented without Russia. It is no coincidence, for example, that Prime Minister Modi visited the 2019 Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. He intends to expand India’s economic presence in the Russian Far East.
The situation is much the same with Look West, where India, among other things, is interested in Central Asia being free from extremism and terrorism. India is also interested in establishing the North–South Transport Corridor from the Arabian Sea to Western Europe. Russia has a defining role in both cases.
Neither the radical political and economic changes in Russia and India nor the general shifts in the global situation could stop new wrinkles and points of concern from being introduced into Russia–India relations. It is telling that Moscow and New Delhi refer to their relations as a privileged strategic partnership, rather than in terms of friendship and cooperation.
Proof of the strategic nature of this partnership can be found in the interaction between the two countries on key issues of international politics, as well as in the fact that, beyond politics, bilateral relations are driven by energy (including nuclear energy), military-technical cooperation and peaceful exploration of space, areas that are of strategic importance for any state.
India imports one third of the oil and gas it consumes and is investing heavily in the development of Russia’s energy resources. This fact is of special significance for Russia today, when the sanctions imposed on Russia mean that companies from the West are prohibited from participating in new Russian oil and gas projects, including those in the Arctic. India urgently needs to develop its nuclear sector, and Russia is the only foreign state that builds nuclear power plants there. Russia has made this decision in favour of a state that is not a party to the Non-proliferation Treaty because it trusts India and values the partnership it has with that country. Russia also supports India’s accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
India is the only country to have a long-term weapons cooperation programme with Russia in place. It is the only state that has received help from Russia in the development of a nuclear submarine project. India has also leased a nuclear submarine from Russia and purchased Russia-Israel-made AEW&C aircraft. The Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier was modernized for India, where it was renamed the Vikramaditya. The high-efficiency cruise missile BrahMos was developed jointly by the two countries, and a fifth-generation combat fighter aircraft is now being developed jointly as well. India is expected to be the only recipient of the high-precision GLONASS (Russia’s global navigation system) signal for the purposes of defence and security.
Seventy per cent of India’s military’s combat equipment was manufactured either in Russia or in India under Russian licenses. It is unlikely that India would allow itself to become so dependent on Russia in the military sphere if it did not have full confidence in the strategic partnership. But this is strategically important for Russia as well. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia’s defence complex found itself in dire financial straits. India alleviated the situation by placing large defence orders with Russia. In a sense, New Delhi forced the Russian defence industry to accelerate the modernization process by placing orders for equipment with highest technical requirements.
Russia–India communication is of great practical importance for Russia in terms of studying India’s experience and using it to solve a number of problems. I will dwell on only two examples. First, like Russia, India is a federative state. Its constitution clearly demarcates the powers of the central and local authorities. Russia would do well to study how India tackled such matters. The second issue pertains to financing the military. India’s military, the fourth-strongest in the world, is a contract force. Perhaps some Indian financing methods could be used in Russia.
In many ways, the long-standing Russia–India partnership has acquired a new quality over the past 25 years. Demonstrative declarations of friendship are a thing of the past. Without wasting time on ceremonial perorations, the two great powers collaborate on specific issues in order to meet both their individual and mutual interests.
The partnership between Russia and India is an integral component of global and regional developments. Today, the world is on the threshold of a new world order, with a polycentric political and multi-currency economic system. The new world order should ensure equality and mutual respect for the interests of large and small states in politics; mutual advantages and gains in economy; compatibility and mutual enrichment of civilizations in culture; mutual trust and cooperation in security; and a common responsibility in global issues. The specially privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India is called upon to make a significant contribution to building this world order.
From our partner RIAC
Russia, Turkey and the new geopolitical reality
The recent Russia – Turkey summit in Sochi, even though yielding no tangible outcomes (as became clear well before it, the summit would not result in the signing of any agreements), has evoked a lot of speculation – ranging from assumptions of the “failure” of talks to fairly optimistic forecasts for the future of bilateral relations.
What can be seen as a clear result of the meeting is that the two sides acknowledged readiness for further dialogue. A dialogue is vital also in view of the fact that western countries have been curtailing their military and political presence in the region, which has thus led to the formation of a terrorist state in Afghanistan.
According to Sergei Lavrov, terrorist threat persists and has even been intensifying in Idlib: «Terrorist groups operating from beyond the Idlib de-escalation zone continue to attack the positions of the Syrian army, what’s more, they have been trying to act against the Russian contingent», – the Russian foreign minister told a news conference following talks with his Egyptian counterpart, after the summit in Sochi. A solution to the problem lies, he said, in “complete implementation of the agreements signed by Presidents Putin and Erdogan to the effect that terrorists, first of all, from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, should be isolated regardless of whatever new slogans they might come up with and for the purpose of quelling all these terrorist groups”.
As a final agreement on de-escalation in Idlib is expected to be reached, sources report a build-up of Syrian army forces along the Syrian side of the demarcation line, on the one hand, and a concentration of Turkish military groups, on the other (whereas after talks in Sochi the Turkish military started to retreat to the north – A.I.) Opposition representatives have been making aggressive statements again, even though in Sochi, Dmitry Peskov said, the two sides reiterated their “commitment to earlier agreements, underscored the need to implement these agreements by clearing Idlib of terrorist groups which were still there and which could pose a threat and launch a fierce attack against the Syrian army”.
Turkey keeps accusing Russia of breaching a ceasefire agreement for the northwest of Syria of March 5, 2020, while Russia maintains that Turkey is not acting on its commitments and that it is unable (or unwilling? – A.I.) to separate terrorists from armed opposition. For these mutual accusations the two presidents use politically correct statements, while their discontent over the situation is articulated by foreign ministers, press secretaries and MPs.
In brief, Moscow’s position is as follows: Bashar Assad is a legally elected head of the Syrian Arab Republic, the territorial integrity of which is beyond doubt. A compromise with Damascus calls for similar steps from the opponents, whereas confrontation in Idlib and in other hot spots across Syria should be the responsibility of countries whose troops are deployed there without the approval of the UN or without invitation from official Damascus. These countries are known – the United States and Turkey.
While Moscow and Ankara are often at odds over the Sunni opposition, their attitudes to Kurdish nationalists are less of a clash. Moscow sees them as “mere” separatists who “have not been lost” for Damascus, while Ankara describes them as terrorists that should be eliminated or neutralized by a buffer zone which Turkey has been building and strengthening for several years.
Some experts and politicians believe that this will last forever. In 1920, the already not quite Ottoman but not yet Turkish Parliament adopted the so-called National Vow, which specified that New Turkey would include Syrian and Iraqi territories, which currently border Turkey. Even though the move failed, the National Vow is still, if only unofficially, seen as a founding ideological document of the Turkish Republic, the implementation of which cements the authority of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Moreover, areas occupied by the Turkish army (which make up more than 10% of the Syrian territory) are used for accommodating Syrian refugees, of which there are over three and a half million in Turkey proper. Turks’ growing discontent over the presence of such “guests” is adding to social instability. A new influx could trigger a public outcry in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for 2023.
In all likelihood, Ankara believes that any serious concessions in Idlib will entail the collapse of the entire “buffer zone” project and will invalidate three military operations and the multimillion investments. In addition, it will bring back “the Kurdish issue”, destroy the image of Turkey as a trustworthy ally, and will inflict irreparable damage on the reputation of the incumbent authorities.
Nevertheless, Cumhuriyet observer Mehmet Ali Guller argues that Erdogan suggested readiness to make concessions when he said: «We agree that the time has come to secure a final and lasting solution to the Syrian issue. We announced that we are open for any realistic and fair steps in this direction».
From our point of view, there is nothing about “concessions” in what Erdogan says but what is clear is that he is, if only unwillingly, beginning to accept The Syrian reality. After years of demanding the removal of Bashar Assad, the Turkish leadership no longer issues statements to this effect, though it refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the incumbent regime (contacts at intelligence agency level do not count), promising to withdraw troops only after the establishment of “democratic rule” in Syria. But democracy as seen through the Middle East realities is something vague and unclear.
Furthermore, Erdogan is forced to “re-evaluate values” by a growing tension in relations with western allies. The Turkish president, after years of speaking strongly in favor of American presence in Syria, is now calling for the withdrawal of the American contingent from the country.
A consolidated position of Ankara’s western partners on Russia-Turkey relations was formulated by Die Zeit: during talks with the Russian leader in Sochi Erdogan played the role of a “requestor”, since he “missed a decisive factor – the West”, which he needs as “a critically important partner, which makes it possible for Ankara not to bow to Russia”. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu did not agree to that: «We are a NATO member, on the one hand, but on the other hand, our relations with Russia are progressing…..Why should we make a choice [between them]?».
«It’s no secret that Ankara’s and Moscow’s interests in the region do not coincide…..[but] The positive responses of the two countries’ leaders on the results of talks in Sochi suggest that Moscow and Ankara are prepared to remove all misunderstandings by dialogue», – Ilyas Kemaloglu, political analyst with Marmara University, says. Haberturk Media Holding observer Cetiner Cetin argues that American troops’ “flight” from Afghanistan and their gradual departure from other regions is creating a new geopolitical reality, which means that “Turkey might continue to distance itself from NATO in order to find itself among top players within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization”.
While economic ties between Russia and Turkey are mostly problem-free, the political relations are often an issue. However, every time they meet, Putin and Erdogan manage not only to “quell” conflict, but to make a way for cooperation. The reason is that the two countries, despite their tactical differences, share the strategic goals: diktat of the West is unacceptable, the leading role in the East should belong to regional powers. As long as we share these goals, a Russia-Turkey alliance will be beneficial for both parties.
From our partner International Affairs
The 30th Anniversary of the Renewal of Diplomatic Relations Between Russia and Israel
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey V. Lavrov’s article for the Israeli Newspaper “Yedioth Ahronoth” dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of the Renewal of Diplomatic Relations Between Russia and Israel, October 15, 2021.
On October 18, Russia and Israel celebrate the 30th anniversary of the renewal of full-fledged diplomatic relations – the beginning of a new era of common history.
Turning to the pages of the past, let me recall that the USSR was the first country to recognize de jure the State of Israel back in May 1948. Of course, there were ups and downs in the chronicle of our relationship. Today, it could be assessed with confidence that Russian-Israeli mutually beneficial cooperation has stood the test of time and continues to actively develop in all directions.
Its foundation is formed by an intensive political dialogue, foremost – at the highest level. Inter-parliamentary contacts are progressing, bolstered by Friendship Groups established in the legislative bodies of our countries. Inter-ministerial communications are carried out on a regular basis.
Over the past decades, a solid experience of diversified cooperation has been accumulated in such spheres as economics, science and technology, healthcare and education. More than twenty acting intergovernmental agreements reflect the richness of the bilateral agenda.
Our mutual practical cooperation has significant potential. A number of joint projects are being successfully implemented. Many initiatives have received the support of the President of the Russian Federation and the Prime Minister of the State of Israel. The interest of Israeli business circles in entering the Russian market continues to grow. Despite the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, by the end of 2020 trade between Russia and Israel decreased by only 3.9%, and in January-July this year it increased by 51.8% over the previous year’s period. The key coordinating mission in these common efforts is fulfilled by the Joint Russian-Israeli Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation, founded in 1994. We are interested in the early resumption of its work in full.
A special role in strengthening the unifying baselines of our relations as well as ensuring their stability and continuity belongs to humanitarian contacts. We appreciate the high level of mutual understanding between the peoples of Russia and Israel, connected by a common historical memory and convergence of cultures. It is encouraging that this thread, which has no geographic boundaries, is only getting stronger in course of time.
There are millions of Russian-speaking compatriots living in Israel, including descendants both from the former Republics of the USSR and from the Russian Federation. Veterans of the Great Patriotic War, survivors of the siege, former prisoners of concentration camps are among them. The fate of these people is of major interest to us.
Most vigorous rejection of the attempts of historical revisionism, combatting the distortion of the genesis, course and generally recognized international legal outcomes of the World War II have always united Russia and Israel. We will continue to coordinate our efforts, and specifically at the UN, to counter this shameful phenomenon.
While in some countries of Central and Eastern Europe Nazi henchmen are being brought to the level of national heroes and neo-Nazi tendencies are being revived, the memory of the decisive contribution of the heroic soldiers of the Red Army to the Victory over Nazism, the saving of Jews and other peoples from extermination, the liberation of the world from the horrors of the Holocaust is sacred in Israel. We see how Israeli colleagues – at the state and public levels – encourage the activities of the veterans and compatriots movements, conduct active work to educate the younger generation.
It is difficult to overestimate the significance of the law on Celebrating the Victory Day over Nazi Germany on May 9, approved by the Israeli parliament in 2017. It is particularly telling that on the 76th anniversary of the Great Victory, celebrated this year, festive events and commemorative parades along with the Immortal Regiment march were held in more than 45 Israeli cities. Thousands of Israelis of all ages as well as officials participated. This scale speaks for itself.
Cooperation in the field of education and science – whether through student and academic exchanges or joint scientific research continues to move forward. Every year, students from Israel get an opportunity to receive higher education in Russian universities. All of them are sincerely welcome there.
We hope that it will be possible to restore mutual tourist flows as soon as the sanitary and epidemiological situation improves. Russia is traditionally one of the top three countries in terms of the number of visitors to Israel.
The Russian-Israeli dialogue is vigorously advancing through the foreign ministries. It is obvious that without constructive interaction of diplomats it is impossible to solve a number of international and regional problems that are of paramount importance both for ensuring the prosperous future of the peoples of Russia and Israel just as for strengthening international and regional security and stability. From this perspective, diversified contacts between the Security Councils and the defense ministries of our countries have also proven themselves well. On a regular basis it allows us to compare approaches and take into account each other’s legitimate interests.
Russia is pursuing an independent multi-vector foreign policy, contemplating pragmatism, the search for compromises and the observance of balances of interests. Creation of the most favorable external conditions for our internal socio-economic development remains its backbone. We have no ideological likes and dislikes, or any taboos in relations with our foreign partners, therefore we can play an active role in the international arena and specifically through mediation in the settlement of conflicts.
We are interested in continuing consultations with our Israeli partners on security and stability issues in the Middle East. We always draw attention to the fact that comprehensive solutions to the problems of the region must necessarily take into account the security interests of Israel. This is a matter of principle.
At the same time, we are convinced that there is no alternative to the two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a generally recognized international legal basis. We strongly support direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. A comprehensive solution to all issues of the final status is possible only through it. We are ready to work with Israeli colleagues, including multilateral formats, primarily in the context of the renewal of work of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators in close cooperation with representatives of the Arab League.
I am convinced: it is in the common interest to maintain the momentum. Ahead of us are new milestones and additional opportunities not only to continue, but also to enrich the positive experience of multifaceted cooperation for the benefit of our states and peoples, in the interests of peace and stability.
Source: Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Emerging “Eastern Axis” and the Future of JCPOA
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh recently said that Tehran would further strengthen its ties with Moscow via a strategic partnership. Said Khatibzadeh ‘The initial arrangements of this document, entitled the Global Agreement for Cooperation between Iran and Russia, have been concluded’
This agreement will be similar in nature to the agreement signed by Iran with China in March 2021, dubbed as the strategic cooperation pact, which sought to enhance economic and strategic relations (China would invest 400 Billion USD in infrastructure and oil and gas sector while also strengthening security ties). Commenting on the same, Khatibzadeh also said that an ‘Eastern axis’ is emerging between Russia, Iran and China.
Closer ties with Russia are important from an economic, strategic point of view, and also to reduce Iran’s dependence upon China (many including Iran’s Foreign Minister had been critical of the 25 year agreement saying that it lacked transparency). Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on the eve of his Russia visit from October 5-6th, 2021 also stated that Iran while strengthening ties would not want to be excessively dependent upon either country.
Iranian Foreign Minister’s visit to Russia
Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian during his Russia visit discussed a host of issues with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov including the current situation in Afghanistan, South Caucasus, Syria and the resumption of the Vienna negotiations.
Russia and Iran have been working closely on Afghanistan (on October 20, 2021 Russia is hosting talks involving China, India, Iran and Pakistan with the Taliban).
It is also important to bear in mind, that both Russia and Iran have flagged the non-inclusive nature of the Taliban Interim government. Russia has in fact categorically stated that recognition of Taliban was not on the table. Said the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, ‘the whole gamut of Afghan society — ethno-religious and political forces — so we are engaging in contacts, they are ongoing.’
China’s approach vis-à-vis Afghanistan
Here it would be pertinent to point out, that China’s stance vis-à-vis Afghanistan is not identical to that of Moscow and Tehran. Beijing while putting forward its concerns vis-à-vis the use of Afghan territory for terrorism and support to Uyghur separatist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), has repeatedly said that there should be no external interference, and that Afghanistan should be allowed to decide its future course. China has also spoken in favor of removal of sanctions against the Taliban, and also freeing the reserves of the Afghan Central Bank (estimated at well over 9 Billion USD), which had been frozen by the US after the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
If one were to look at the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action JCPOA/Iran Nuclear deal, Russia has been urging Iran to get back to the Vienna negotiations on the one hand (these negotiations have been on hold since June), while also asking the US to return to its commitments, it had made under the JCPOA, and also put an end to restriction on Iran and its trading partners.
Conversation between US Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister
The important role of Russia is reiterated by the conversation between US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken with Russian Foreign Minister. Angela Merkel during her visit to Israel also made an important point that both China and Russia had an important role to play as far as getting Iran back on JCPOA is concerned. What is also interesting is that US has provided a waiver to the company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline connecting Russia and Germany. The US has opposed the project, but the Department of State said waiving these sanctions was in US national interest. Both Germany and Russia welcomed this decision.
In conclusion, while there is no doubt that Russia may have moved closer to China in recent years, its stance on Afghanistan as well as it’s important role in the context of resumption of Vienna negotiations highlight the fact that Moscow is not keen to play second fiddle to Beijing. The Biden Administration in spite of its differences has been engaging closely with Moscow (a number of US analysts have been arguing for Washington to adopt a pragmatic approach vis-à-vis Russia and to avoid hyphenating Moscow with Beijing). In the given geopolitical landscape, Washington would not be particularly averse to Tehran moving closer to Russia. While the Iranian spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh spoke about a Eastern axis emerging between Moscow, Tehran and Beijing, it would be pertinent to point out, that there are differences on a number of issues between Moscow and Beijing. The Russia-Iran relationship as well as US engagement with Russia on a number of important geopolitical issues underscores the pitfalls of viewing geopolitics from simplistic binaries.
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