Growing China-Russia alliance casts shadow over India’s defence challenges

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 16, 2024, at the Great Hall of the People.

The meeting featured a guard of honor by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and underscored the deepening ties between the two nations.

Putin emphasized the non-opportunistic nature of their relationship, while Xi described it as “everlasting” and a model for new international relations.

The leaders also attended a concert celebrating 75 years of diplomatic ties.

Impact of Ukraine Conflict

Putin’s visit to China comes amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict, with Russia maintaining significant control over Ukrainian territories.

The Russia-China “no-limits” strategic partnership, signed just before the Ukraine invasion in February 2022, continues to influence global dynamics.

The West, particularly the United States, remains concerned about China’s role in in supporting Russia. U.S. officials have highlighted China’s provision of dual-use items crucial for Russia’s military operations.

U.S. Concerns and Chinese Assurances

During their visits to China, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed concerns over China’s support for Russia.

Despite Xi’s assurances to not sell arms to Russia and control dual-use goods, the West remains wary of China’s involvement.

China’s exports of machine tools, computer chips, and logistics equipment have been vital for Russia’s military, raising alarms about sustained military support.

Implications for India

India faces significant concerns due to the deepening Russia-China ties. With 60-70% of its defense supplies coming from Russia, India’s dependency is critical, especially amid its ongoing border tensions with China.

Western analysts warn that Russia could become a junior partner to China, complicating India’s strategic calculations.

The historical context of the Soviet Union’s stance during past India-China conflicts adds another layer of complexity to the current geopolitical scenario.

Strategic Calculations and Historical Context

The Sino-Russian relationship has evolved from Cold War rivalry to a strategic partnership based on economic ties.

China is now Russia’s largest trading partner and biggest Asian investor.

The West’s hostile approach towards Russia, particularly after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, has further strengthened Sino-Russian ties.

India, traditionally a major recipient of Russian defense supplies, must navigate this evolving relationship carefully to maintain its strategic autonomy.

Future Dynamics and Regional Stability

The meeting between Putin and Xi highlights the implications of a stronger Sino-Russian partnership for global politics and regional stability.

For India, the primary concern remains ensuring reliable defense supplies while managing its strategic positioning against a backdrop of increasing China-Russia cooperation.

The deepening ties between Russia and China pose significant challenges for India, necessitating a careful balance of diplomatic and military strategies.

The reinforced Sino-Russian relationship presents a complex challenge for India, with critical implications for its defense supplies and strategic positioning amidst regional tensions.

As global dynamics continue to shift, India’s approach to managing its relationships with both Russia and China will be crucial for maintaining its strategic interests.