Skip to comments.India, Russia focus on Iran issue
Posted on 03/05/2006 3:31:53 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
India and Russia have held talks on the eve of a key meeting of the UN atomic watchdog over the Iran issue. Indian Premier Manmohan Singh "lauded Russia's efforts to address the issue... through dialogue and consultations," a statement said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors meets on Monday.
The meeting is expected to clear the way for the UN Security Council to consider acting against Iran over fears it seeks nuclear weapons.
The IAEA board of governors will hear a report from the organisation's chief, Mohamed ElBaradei.
The talks on the phone between Prime Minister Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday were "initiated" by the Indian side.
The two leaders also discussed ongoing co-operation in the field of civilian nuclear energy.
Earlier this week, during a visit by US President George W Bush to Delhi, India and US reached a landmark deal in which India agreed to separate its military and civilian nuclear facilities.
The agreement should help India gain access to civilian nuclear technology and nuclear fuel from the US.
Under the deal, India would open the civilian facilities to international inspections.
The agreement, subject to an approval by US Congress, is expected to meet India's growing energy needs.
I am not opposed to India working with Russia since they are a regional power and an old ally. But, I am always disappointed when India is influenced by Russia to stay on the wrong side.
Hope they will vote to refer Iran to the UNSC. I am not expecting much from UNSC, but at least that will be a step forward to show some more seriousness by the world community vis-a-vis Iran.
Diplomatic relations between India and the Soviet Union was established on April 13, 1947. The USSR supported the Indian policy of non-alignment, which coincided with the Soviet strategy intended to constrain US influence in the Afro-Asian region. Particularly this influence was expressed through the attraction of Pakistan to CENTO and CEATO military alliances sponsored by the USA, and American economic assistance programs offered to India.
Confrontation with Islamabad was always the major issue in New Delhi's foreign policy. America signed a military alliance with Pakistan in 1954 when Jawaharlal Nehru refused to cooperate with the USA. The Indian government was forced to expand contacts with China and the USSR. Indo-Soviet relations got noticeably stronger after an exchange of visits of the heads of the two states in 1955. "Shout for us across the Himalayas whenever you need us" this saying of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, addressed to the Indian government, best characterizes the attitudes between the two countries during this period.
As the Indian historians claim, the USSR helped "in advance", earlier than leaders of New-Delhi had time to shout, or even to realize, that it was necessary to shout. The Soviet leadership supported India in the Security Council of the United Nations on every issue the position on Goa, or on the states of Jammu and Kashmir. Due to Soviet support, Indian prestige on the international scene strengthened noticeably, turning the country into a leader of the Non- aligned states and an active participant in the peace-making actions of the United Nations.
The USA also assisted in pushing India closer to the USSR, first by its indifference towards New Delhi, and then by choosing India's archrival as an ally.
Largely, that became a reason why Indo-Soviet relations concentrated mostly on cooperation and on transfer of military equipment and technologies.
The first peak of Soviet weapons deliveries to India came during the border conflict of 1962 between China and India. However, at that time Khrushchev was not interested in escalation between New Delhi and Beijing. China had not yet started to compete with the USSR, and the Soviet leader aspired to create a triple alliance to counterbalance United States.
Also the Soviet Union laid an emphasis on the development of Indian heavy industry, focusing on military production.
After its easy defeat by China in 1962, India made costly and strenuous efforts to improve its army. Striving not to fall under full dependence on the USSR, the Indian government tried to find western suppliers of weaponry. But in vain - Great Britain offered only a limited assortment, and the Americans put forward a huge list of required policy changes unacceptable to the Hindus. In 1965 and in 1971, during the second and third Indo-Pakistan campaigns, the scale of deliveries of the Soviet weapons to India increased sharply.
Consequently, in 1971 the Indian army surpassed Pakistan by more than twice the quantity of military equipment. The most effective weapons of this war were Soviet planes Su-7 and MiG-21. Furthermore, besides military deliveries, the Soviet Pacific fleet came to the Bay of Bengal to parry the American 7-th fleet, which arrived there to support Pakistan. Owing to Soviet help, India was able to prevail quickly over her enemy. A Tendency was created during this time in which the Indian army and the military-industrial complex were critically dependent on Soviet and Russian models of arms and equipment. Nearly 80 percent of all Indian military gear were purchased from Soviet Union - Russia or created on the basis of their technology.
In August 1971, strategic cooperation between the parties reached its peak with the signing of the "Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation", which incorporated serious security articles. Both parties declared their willingness not to participate in any activity harming the interests of the other.
In 1975 and 1979 the USSR promoted development of Indian space research, assisting in launches of the first Indian satellites. And in 1984 the first Hindu astronaut flew into space on board of Soviet spacecraft "SOUZ".
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the beginning of the 80-s brought a certain cooling off in the relations between the two states. New Delhi realized that the invasion triggered massive deliveries of American weapons to Pakistan, reviving an arms race in the region.
America committed $3.2 billion in arms (including F-16 fighters) and economic aid to Islamabad. India was compelled to keep military pace with Pakistan, requiring weapons from the USSR, thus increasing dependency on the Soviet Union. In May 1980, India signed a $1.6 billion arms agreement with the USSR (at concessionary terms of a 2.5 percent interest rate). As part of this deal, India received MiG-23s and a reconnaissance version of the MiG-25. India paid for this not only in cash, but also was bound to establish diplomatic relations with the pro-Soviet Vietnam-installed Cambodian government of Heng Samrin.
Several western sources (Richard F. Staar, Foreign Policies of the Soviet Union) claim that in 1981 another huge arms deal, totaling $2.5 billion was signed secretly, but there is no confirmation of that from open Soviet - Russian sources.
These deals proved to be a heavy burden for the Indian economy, and became one of the reasons that India applied for a $5.65 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, the largest request to that date.
Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandy, during her third term in the office decided to "westernize" slightly the policy of the state, and tried again to find other suppliers of weapons. But again, there was no alternative to the USSR.
Between 1983 and 1987 the Soviet Union delivered $7.6 billion worth of weapons to the country. In 1984 Soviet defense minister Dmitriy Ustinov visited New Delhi, offering modern military equipment.
In total, from 1960 till 2000, the USSR Russia supplied India with almost $35 billion worth of military equipment. The USSR did not demand immediate payment for the majority of these deliveries, and "saved" arrears as another means of pressure upon the Indian authorities. When the USSR collapsed, New Delhi's debt to Moscow was estimated at from $12 up to $16 billion (including interest).
Read the above with a pinch of salt' especially the extent of assistance. But the basics are Ok
October 02, 2000
Why its dumb to bend over backwards for Putin
Roll up the red carpet By Shekhar Gupta
If we wish to understand the new India-Russia power equation, we must begin by not letting nostalgia overwhelm our judgement. On the eve of Vladimir Putins visit, it would be a blunder to see our current relationship with Russia in the background of our so-called historic friendship with the Soviet Union. This Russia is not Soviet Union. It is not even a successor state of the Soviet Union.
It is Russia of the old, pre-revolution era without its riches and creativity or the all-powerful czars. Between that czarist Russia and this, the Soviet era was an interlude which even the Russians are not nostalgic about. In fact, the only people in the world still nursing romantic notions of this type are many Indians who expect this downsized state to restore the international balance of power in a manner we may find more comfortable. It will be stupid if our leaders were to now relate to Putin like that.
The Putin visit is not like Khrushchev, Brezhnev or even Gorbachev coming to India. We can give him more than he can give us. Russia is no longer a captive market for third-rate Indian shoe uppers or tea dust. Nor can it give us any largesse, military or economic. It is a country more dependent on the multilateral lending institutions than even India. It is more unstable than we are, has a messier economic situation, more crime in its capital than we have in ours, is fighting more popular insurgencies than we are, is more at odds with militant Islam than any other country in the world, has no democratic institutions worth the name and carries little international clout. In fact, if we forget our traditional inferiority complex for a moment, we might be flattered to find that we probably have more clout on the international stage than this Russia. Funny, but this allegedly unipolar world is that kind of a place. It is in a hurry to leave history behind. It mocks at nostalgia.
The Russians have a real problem relating to the globalised new economy. As John Sculley, formerly of Apple, put it the other day, the Indians do software, the Chinese do hardware, the Russians do nothing. Richard Nixon predicted this in his futuristic treatise 1999: Victory Without War when he compared the fortunes of the immigrants of various nationalities. The children of the Indians and the Chinese who emigrated as labourers, he said, have become doctors, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs. The Russians and the Poles are now second generation plumbers and electricians.
There is no reason for India to celebrate the decline of Russia as a world power or even as a partner in trade, technology and in the multilateral equations. But we cannot deal with Putins Russia as equals unless we realise that the country has spent the past few years repudiating and destroying almost everything it inherited from its Soviet past except, perhaps, its bloated armament industry.
Part of that rejected inheritance is also the old Cold War power equations and linkages, particularly with client states. It is also necessary for us to accept that bitter reality. For all our protestations of non-alignment, the Soviets saw us as a client state, an impression the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty did very little to correct. In 1971, the year of the infamous treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation, it was the Soviet pressure more than the presence of the Seventh Fleet that persuaded Mrs Gandhi not to move forces from the eastern to the western front and finish the Pakistani threat for ever. Even 15 years later, Rajiv Gandhi confirmed that unequal relationship when he decided to make an unscheduled stopover in Moscow to brief Gorbachev on what had transpired in what was then hailed as a particularly successful visit to Washington. And let us not forget our record of supporting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Soviets may have given us arms and technologies such as they had in exchange for masses of low-quality goods. But the days of barter economies are now over. The Russians still have similarly old, though rugged, hardware to sell us. But now they want hard cash in return. In the past you at least knew they were unlikely to flinch under Western pressure from continuing supplies during a war. Today you cant be so sure. Russia is more vulnerable to IMF/World Bank pressures than even Pakistan. Its own waning global influence can be assessed from the kind of say it has been able to have in its own neighbourhood, say, in Kosovo. It has watched helplessly the world gang up on its fellow Slavs without being able to do anything to defend them except protest.
All this is not to belittle Russia, the size and potential of its economy, the quality of its population, the enormity of its nuclear stockpile and the commonality of some of its interests with India. But in terms of what it can do to rectify the balance in this unipolar world, it carries even less weight than India and a minor fraction compared to China. In the past we needed its veto on Kashmir as the issue came to vote at the Security Council, every now and then.
Today we have enough clout to ensure that wont happen. And if it did, are we sure the Russians will follow the Soviet voting pattern at the UN? Have they been doing it on the other issues of late? How did they respond to Pokharan II, did they matter at all during Kargil?
Russias consumers prefer Western goods they unfortunately still remember us for the barter trade shoddiness of our products. It has very little to sell to India except armaments. And there too the equation is very different from the past. The Soviet Union gave us arms as a favour. Russia has almost nowhere it can sell these armaments in large enough numbers to create any economies of scale except India. The end of the Cold War has consumed most of the despots and clients who bought Russian hardware. The ones that remain prefer the cheaper Chinese copies of the Soviet products instead. It does India no favours by selling it rocket technologies or even nuclear power plants. Which other country in the world can it hawk these products to? Which other economy is large enough to build rockets but is encumbered by Western sanctions? Many of the others have green movements so strong they wont ever let them buy nuclear reactors from an establishment that built Chernobyl. Russia needs hard cash. It needs a market like India for its weapons. Russia needs India more than India needs Russia.
The Russians themselves are no longer nostalgic about India. The Raj Kapoor, Aawara Hoon generation is gone with Communism. The new Russian relates to India as a cheap market to buy and sell and far too many of the latter day Russian travellers to Delhi choose a seedy Paharganj hotel as their favourite destination rather than the Stalinesque ITDC monsters their parents frequented on state-funded visits. If you have doubts on how much residual warmth remains among Russians for India, please try to obtain a visa to visit their country. The Russian consular officers would make their German counterparts sound friendly in comparison. Or fly to Moscow and enjoy the cold stares and suspicion of the immigration policeman.
If we are smart enough to break free from a past that the Russians themselves have buried and forgotten, we might find that our new, bilateral equation is not only more even, it is a bit tilted in our favour. From that point on, it may be more comfortable to deal with Putin and his Russia as equals. It may then even be possible to ask him some hard questions on why he is so desperate to buy peace with Pakistan.
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