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    Modi’s Russia visit shows India isn’t worried about making the US mad

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

    In a move likely to anger the US, Modi is visiting Russia.The move signals strong ties between Delhi and Moscow, and shows the world India is pursuing its own agenda.Modi is aiming to correct the trade imbalance and address China’s Indo-Pacific activities.

    In a move likely to anger the US, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Russia on Monday for his first bilateral trip after winning a historic third term in office.

    Modi’s two-day visit to Russia — where he is scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin — is significant in that it signals strong ties between Delhi and Moscow. It also shows the world that India is not afraid to pursue its own agenda.

    Vinay Kwatra, India’s foreign secretary, told reporters in New Delhi that issues between Russia and India have “piled up” and “need to be addressed,” per Bloomberg.

    Russia’s relationship with India goes back to the Cold War, and trade between the two countries has grown since Russia started the war in Ukraine. India is a major buyer of Russian oil. Russia is also India’s biggest arms supplier.

    Kwatra underscored that the two countries’ trade relationship has remained “resilient.”

    Still, Modi’s trip will “rankle many Western observers,” Ved Shinde, a researcher and contributor to Australia’s Lowy Institute think tank, wrote in a note on Wednesday.

    “Since the Ukraine war began, India’s purchase of cheap oil from Russia has been seen as profiting from troubles in the heart of Europe,” Shinde added.

    Modi’s visit to Russia will make the US look bad

    Just like Putin’s visit to supply-chain hot spot Vietnam, India’s engagement with Russia isn’t a good look for the US, as it comes while Washington is isolating Putin’s regime.

    The US has raised “some concerns” about India’s relationship with Russia with New Delhi, Kurt Campbell, the US Deputy Secretary of State, said last month.

    However, Washington acknowledges that India’s ties with Russia are different from its ties with the US.

    “We have many areas of alignment, but it is not surprising that there would be areas where we’ve had perhaps different perspectives, views, historical ties,” Campbell said about America’s relationship with India.

    India, for its part, is looking to balance its relationship with the world’s key powerbrokers — the US, Russia, and China.

    “There are different degrees in India’s multi-alignment. Make no mistake — the United States and its allies are more consequential for India’s future than its relationship with Russia,” wrote Shinde.

    India needs to leverage its historical ties with Russia to secure its economy and security, so Modi isn’t just in Russia for a goodwill trip.

    Reducing the trade imbalance

    A key agenda item for the visit is to reduce a huge bilateral trade imbalance, said Kwatra.

    India imports about $60 billion of goods a year from Russia, but Russia buys less than 10% of this amount from India, per Bloomberg.

    Modi may also touch on China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific region, said Kwatra.

    India is trying to manage its relationship with China, which has been testy since a border dispute in 2020. Modi skipped the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kazakhstan last week.

    There’s also the matter of Russia’s ties with China.

    At the summit last week, Putin said Russia’s relationship with China is in the “best period in history.”

    Modi now needs to cozy up to Putin to counter China’s advances.

    “The reason for the time-tested stability in India-Russia ties is to maintain a continental balance in the Eurasian heartland. That is, to balance China,” wrote Shinde.

    “Or to put it another way, don’t go around making new adversaries when there are already two open fronts — China and Pakistan,” Shinde added.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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