Modi, The Mastermind
Narendra Modi has been one of the greatest diplomatic leaders in the history of India. In turbulent times, where US foreign policy in particular has been ambiguous and confused, Modi has led India through the minefield that is today’s world with ease, and forged new alliances with global powers.
Historically, India and Russia have had very close ties. Russia sells vast amount of military equipment to India, which is made evident by the MIG and Sukhoi jets that comprise the majority of the Indian Air Force, as well as the large amount of Russian tanks present in the Indian army. Even during the Cold War, when India was part of the non-aligned movement, India and the USSR still enjoyed favorable relations with each other, especially after the death of Joseph Stalin. Khrushchev and Nehru both found themselves at odds with China (India in the 1962 war, the USSR in the Sino-Soviet split), and thus shared common interests. In August of 1971, both countries signed the “Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation” which furthered the relationship between the USSR and India. Today, India and Russia continue to cooperate on defense pieces such as the Pak-Fa fighter jet, and the Brahmos hyper sonic anti-ship missile. Evidently, the Indo-Russian alliance is one of the most important alliances to both India and Russia.
Thus, it is vital for Narendra Modi to ensure the Indo-Russian alliance remains strong and stable. While there are concerns in New Delhi over Russian ties to China and Pakistan, overall, the India-Russia alliance is still strong. On June 23, India and Russia signed a “Military Cooperation Roadmap” , which reaffirms that both powers still do in fact trust each other, and open up the path for more bilateral military exercises. India and Russia also signed deals on new helicopters, air-defense systems, and frigates. India’s “Make in India” initiative could create new opportunities for Russia to produce tanks and planes at lower cost in India, further strengthening relations between the two nations.
More impressively, Modi has managed to also strengthen ties with the United States. Trump and Modi issued a joint statement that implicitly blamed Pakistan for helping the North Korean nuclear weapons program, and pledged to “root out terrorist safe havens in every part of the world”. The US also sold 22 guardian drones to India in a deal that is worth 2-3 billion dollars, a “game changer” in US-India relations. Additionally, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s foreign secretary, expected a vast increase in the US-India LNG trade, and that LNG flowing from the US to India could be worth as much as 40 billion dollars in a few years. India and the US also signed a pact for “enhancing security cooperation” which includes cooperating on counter-terrorism, as well as cyber security and policing. Trump has said the US-India relationship has “never been better”-a true statement, given the poor state of US-India relations in the cold war and after India’s nuclear tests in 1998.
This new era in US-India relations has led to much fear in Beijing and Islamabad, who view a US-India alliance as detrimental to their interests. Chinese state media warned of “catastrophic results” if the US and India cooperate further, stating that “geopolitical friction” could increase in Asia. Pakistan, meanwhile, accused the US of “dual standards” with regards to Kashmir, especially after the US named a Pakistan-backed Kashmiri separatist as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”.
The real winner here, of course, is India. With strong ties to both Russia and the United States, it puts China and Pakistan in a very awkward and difficult situation, especially with Trump’s frustration with China over North Korea. India, meanwhile, has been left with two of the strongest countries on Earth as allies, and is in a very strong position geopolitically.