Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

India and Russia: a friendship enduring and passionate

Russian President Putin and Indian Prime Minister Modi showed at SPIEF in St. Petersburg a continued determination to preserve a strong mutual relationship between India and Russia which for all the continued tensions also ties India and China together.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

2,993 Views

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (“SPIEF”) which Russia holds every year in early summer in St.Petersburg invariably highlights Russia’s relations with one particular country.  This year that country was India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended SPIEF at the head of a strong Indian delegation.  He had a bilateral meeting with Russian President Putin, and together with Putin attended SPIEF’s plenary session.

Putin and Modi then attended together a meeting with Indian business people who had come with Modi to SPIEF, a package of economic and other agreements focused mainly on upgrades to India’s infrastructure followed, and Putin and Modi rounded up their series of meetings with public statements reaffirming in fulsome terms the close friendship between the two countries.

This very friendly relationship between India and Russia is in many ways surprising.

The two countries do not have a close economic relationship, though part of the purpose of the meetings between Putin and Modi was to try to make it closer.

The two countries do cooperate in defence related matters, with Russia apparently in advanced talks to supply India with S-400 surface to air missiles to India.  However defence cooperation between the two countries is no longer as close as it once was.  India has pulled out of the joint IL-214 medium transport aircraft programme, has chosen to buy Rafale fighter jets from France in preference to MiG-35 fighters from Russia, and is reported to be having doubts about its joint development of a two seat fifth generation fighter based on Russia’s SU-T50, which is currently on flight test.

On international questions India has a fractious relationship with Russia’s great ally China, regards China’s ally Pakistan – with which Russia is improving relations – as its primary enemy, and has been improving its relations with the US, with which Russia’s relationship is extremely difficult.

Nonetheless political relations between India and Russia remain close, and the personal relationship between Putin and Modi appears to be extremely warm.

What explains this in some ways surprisingly strong relationship?

A major factor is sentiment.

The Russians have an enduring fascination with India extending far back into the nineteenth century, as reflected for example in Rimsky Korsakov’s Song of the Indian Guest, the Russian ballet La Bayadère (“the Indian Temple dancer”), and the curious Indian influenced Theosophical ideas of Madame Blavatsky.

These expressions of nineteenth century Orientalism took place in Russia alongside rigorous academic study of Indian culture and philosophy, in which Russia continues to excel to this day.  One of the best and most complete translations in any European language of the great Indian liturgical poem the Rigveda is in Russian, made in Russia by the great Russian scholar Tatyana Elizarenkova as part of a huge translation project starting in the 1970s.

Tsarist Russia however had no political relationship with India, which would in fact have been impossible during this period when India was part of the British empire.  Subsequently, after the 1917 Revolution, the Soviets took a strong interest in the Indian independence movement but disapproved of the pacifist and religiously oriented line followed by India’s two independence leaders, Gandhi and Nehru.

However following Indian independence relations between the USSR and India became extremely close.

The USSR lost no time establishing diplomatic relations with India after India gained independence in 1948, and Krishna Menon, India’s ambassador at large, was the last foreign guest to be received by Stalin on 17th February 1953, two weeks before his death (Krishna Menon has left a vivid and insightful account of the meeting).

Krishna Menon’s meeting with Stalin was followed two years later by Indian Prime Minister Nehru’s first visit to the USSR in June 1955, and – a few months later, in November 1955 – by the reciprocal visit of Khrushchev and Bulganin to India.

Very friendly ties were established as a result of these visits.  Following his trip to the USSR Nehru supposedly spoke of having left ‘part of his heart’ there, whilst Khrushchev during his visit is reported to have said that if India ever got into trouble all it needed to do was “shout across the Himalayas”.

Unquestionably the Indians were influenced by the Russians’ enthusiasm for India, but there is no doubt that Prime Minister Nehru, a socialist, also felt a strong ideological affinity for the USSR, as shown for example in these passages in his book Discovery of India

The Soviet revolution has moved human society forward by a great leap and sparked a fire that can never be extinguished. It laid the foundation of that new civilisation, towards which the world would move…..The October revolution was  undoubtedly  one of the great events of world history, the greatest since the first French revolution, and its story is more  absorbing from a human and dramatic  point of view, than any tale or phantasy….It is difficult to feel indifferent towards Russia, and it is more difficult to judge her achievements and her failures impartially….

Unsurprisingly Nehru the socialist also tended to look to the USSR for economic development models for India, as shown for example by this comment

Russia thus interests us, because it may help  us to find some solution  for the serious problems which the world faces today.. It interests us especially because conditions there have not  been, and are not even now, very dissimilar to conditions in India.  Both are vast agricultural countries with only the  beginning of industrialisation, and both have to face poverty and illiteracy.  If Russia finds a satisfactory solution for these, our work in India would be made easier.

It should be said however that despite expressing these sentiments Nehru never attempted to reproduce in India anything that remotely resembled the Soviet economic model.

Beyond these sentiments, Soviet-Indian friendship from the 1950s was consolidated by certain very clear shared geostrategic interests.

For the USSR India was a key friend during the Cold War.  Though never exactly an ally, during difficult periods in the Cold War when the USSR appeared to be threatened with international isolation the fact that the USSR had a close friend in India – by population the world’s second largest country, and a major power – was for the Soviets always psychologically reassuring.

For the Indians friendship with the USSR gave India important leverage in its relations with the US, and protection from the two countries which from the 1960s India came to see as increasingly hostile: Pakistan and China.

Indeed the simultaneous collapse of India’s and the USSR’s once close relationships with China after 1960 became a key factor in consolidating their friendship, with the pivotal event being the USSR’s decision to side with India against China in the Indo-Chinese border war of 1962.

The decade after 1962 was the heyday of Indian-Soviet friendship, with the USSR re-equipping the Indian armed forces, building after 1964 a huge complex in India to build MiG-21 fighters, and making major investments in India’s heavy industry and technology base.

Soviet political, diplomatic and military assistance was also crucial in enabling India to win the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, which conclusively established India as the dominant power on the Indian subcontinent.

Inevitably such an intense relationship between India and the USSR created conditions for a strong friendship, which has never ceased.

The Russians during this period became accustomed to thinking of India as a friend, whilst the Indians for their part could not ignore or overlook the fact that in every major crisis India faced after independence it could always rely on support from the USSR.

This close relationship between the USSR and India however always had a somewhat artificial character.

Though the USSR played a major role in the 1960s in upgrading India’s industrial and technological base, the economic relationship was never reciprocal since the centrally planned Soviet economy was ill adapted to trade relationships with third countries outside the Soviet sphere, and India anyway at this time had little to offer which was of interest to the USSR’s planners.

The result was that when the USSR disintegrated in 1991 there was no firm basis for the economic links which had been forged in the 1960s to continue.  Economic contacts between the two countries dwindled and have never since then been strong.  Today the trade relationship between Russia and India is barely significant, with neither country featuring amongst the significant trading partners of the other.

It has also been the case that since 1991 the two countries have become significantly less important to each other politically.

The disintegration of the USSR in 1991 led to a steep decline in Russian power at precisely the time when the Indian economy began to put on speed and when India began to forge strong diplomatic ties with other states, notably since 2000 with the US.

Moreover whereas in the 1960s the USSR’s economy dwarfed India’s, today India’s economy is larger than Russia’s, though the standard of living in India continues to be lower than in Russia.  Inevitably that reduces the attraction for India of economic ties with Russia.

Overshadowing everything is the rise of China and the change in attitude of the two countries towards China.

Whereas India continues to have a prickly and often rivalrous relationship with China, Russia has become China’s ally.

The paradox in this is that whilst India’s economic relationship with Russia is extremely limited, its political relations with Russia remain friendly, whereas India’s economic relationship with China – its biggest trade partner – is very strong, but its political relations are very uneasy.

The talks between Putin and Modi at SPIEF were mainly intended to find some way to renew the economic relationship between the two countries and to bring it back to something approaching its earlier level.  Given that the two countries are not however obvious trade partners it is uncertain whether this can succeed.

The political relationship between the two countries however remains important.  The history of friendly ties forged during the heyday of Soviet-Indian friendship in the 1960s, and the fact that the two countries have never had serious conflicts with each other, means that at a political level they continue to get on well with each other.  Moreover though their friendship has less value to each country than it did in the 1960s, the fact that they are still friends continues to give them diplomatic leverage in their respective relations with the US and China whilst acting as a generally stabilising factor in international affairs.

The friendship between Russia and China also has one other potentially important advantage for India especially.  It provides a bridge between India and China, enabling India and China to use their good relations with Russia to manage their sometimes difficult relationship with each other.

Putin – with Modi sitting right beside him – discussed this at length during during the plenary session at SPIEF

You know, disagreements always have been and still are part of the fabric of our world. Our task – mine, and President Xí Jinping’s and Prime Minister Modi’s – is to find streets, two-way streets, despite all these disagreements, rather than get stuck in dead ends.

Once the three of us – the President of Russia, and the leaders of China and India – got together here some time in 2005 despite all the difficulties, including regional disagreements. We agreed to get together and resolve common problems. This work was launched despite all the difficulties and disagreements.

It was launched and went so well that Brazil and the South African Republic wanted to join us. This led to the emergence of BRICS, which is a major factor in international affairs today. I believe this is a very positive process, and that is how it is viewed by the People’s Republic of China, by the Chinese leaders.

I spoke about this fairly recently, maybe at yesterday’s meeting with the heads of news agencies – we conducted border talks with China for forty years but owing to the atmosphere that was created in our bilateral relations we managed to find a compromise. Of course, one could say that we gave in on something or China gave in on something, but we got it done and it created more opportunities for advancing relations.

We have never had any problems with India. I hope we never will have any. On the contrary, we have only positives, and there are a great many. I am referring to our historical cooperation. Yesterday we signed a number of agreements that are aimed at developing the already traditional areas of cooperation as well as new ones.

We are trying to find new forms of interaction and, naturally, we want to focus on innovative sectors of the modern economy first and foremost. This certainly applies to the nuclear industry, as you mentioned. A number of units are already operating in India and we have ambitious plans for future cooperation. There are very interesting and promising areas for us to work in.

We will provide comprehensive support to those who are involved in this because such cooperation will benefit the people of both India and Russia and, actually, the entire region. This will also facilitate the implementation of the Chinese leadership’s projects related to the Silk Road. We spoke about coordinating efforts of the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road plans. There are always issues that require additional study. But we want to follow this path and we will follow it, and provided there is goodwill, we most certainly will achieve success.

(bold italics added)

Though India and China have a prickly relationship, it is in neither of their interests to become outright enemies, a fact fully understood by both.  It therefore suits each of them to have in Russia a powerful country which is friendly to both of them, providing a link between them.

This is the reverse of the situation in the 1960s when what brought the USSR and India together was their shared enmity with China.  Today on the contrary it is the fact that Russia is an ally of China’s that makes its friendship valuable to India.

Whether the Russians can continue to act successfully as a link between the Chinese and the Indians will depend on how successfully these three Great Powers manage their relations with each other.

The interactions between the Russians and the Indians at SPIEF show that they both understand the nature of this relationship and that they both seem determined to maintain it on a strong level with each other.

That in turn promises well for future relations between India and China for all the continuing difficulties which exist between the two of them.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

Published

on

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending