Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that India not only aspires to become an important pole in a naturally multipolar world, but it is also at the center of creating a multipolar world. Earlier, Lavrov had recently described India’s stand on war against Ukraine as balanced and praised Indian foreign policy.
Now he has praised India’s foreign policy at the Primakov Readings International Forum, describing it as a natural contender for a pole in the multipolar global order. Lavrov said that Western countries do not want to give up the hegemonic global order. They do not want to accept the reality of multipolar system.
It is clear that the new forces are not ready to accept the US-led world order.
But western countries forcefully want to maintain this system. He is not ready to give up this habit that has been going on for five decades. Lavrov insisted on making India and Brazil permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in comparison to Germany and Japan. He said that both the countries are making efforts for this and this is proof of the growing aspirations of the countries playing an important role in the multi-polar world order.
Primakov and his theory of a multipolar world
Yevgeny Primakov was a Russian politician and diplomat. He was the Prime Minister of Russia from 1998 to 1999. Prior to this, he had been the Foreign Minister of Russia. As Foreign Minister in 1996, he advocated a multi-polar world order based on the alliance of Russia, India and China in front of the Russian government.
It was touted as an alternative to the unipolar world order imposed by the US after World War II. He said that Russia needs to change its US-centric foreign policy. He advised Russia to strengthen its friendship with India and China.
He had said that in a multipolar global order, the triumvirate of Russia, China and India would be able to provide some degree of protection to countries that wanted to forge their own independent path instead of following the West. In his speech, while referring to the multipolar system, Lavrov once again emphasized on this triumvirate of Russia, India and China.
He said, Primakov’s idea of the triumvirate of Russia, India and China later transformed into BRICS. Very few people know that RIC is still running. It is on the basis of this alliance that the foreign ministers of the three countries meet regularly.
Why so much praise of India
Being the Russian Foreign Minister, Lavrof understands Primakov’s theory of multipolar world order very well and he is currently seeing India’s important role in this system, so what is the reason for this? Why is he insisting on making India and Brazil permanent members of the UN Security Council instead of Germany and Japan?
Why are you saying that India is becoming a big economic power and in future it can become the top economy of the world. Why he is citing India’s vast diplomatic experience in solving all kinds of problems and is drawing attention to its leadership role in Asia.
To know the answers to all these questions, BBC Hindi spoke to Sanjay Kumar Pandey, Professor in Russia and Central Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. To understand the context of Lavroff’s statement, he said, we have to go back a bit. This is not the first time that Russia has praised Indian foreign policy. Since the treaty of 1955-56 and 1971, the Soviet Union has been keeping India in the list of very important countries.
He said, even when the non-aligned policy was formed, the Soviet Union recognized it and believed that these non-aligned countries have an independent foreign policy and the Soviet Union should improve relations with them. He said, the Soviet Union (Russia was a part of this union) kept putting a lot of emphasis on improving relations with India even among the non-aligned countries.
Soviet Union made important agreements with India during the time of Leonid Ilyich. Although in the 1990s, there was a slight trend of Russia towards western countries, but in 1996, Primakov spoke loudly about the triumvirate of Russia, India and China ie RIC.
Primakov, he says, was in favor of an independent and autonomous foreign policy of Russia. Such a foreign policy whose axis is Eurasia. But there was also an emphasis on building special relations with India and China.
Is India’s foreign policy independent?
Now once again Russia is talking about the triumvirate of India and China and the multipolar global order. Why after all? Why does Lavrov consider India as a pivot of this system?
Sanjay Kumar Pandey says, when Russia attacked Crimea for the first time in 2014, India neither supported nor condemned it. He said that Russia may have some legitimate security concerns and interests in Crimea. Till the time of Crimea and now Ukraine invasion, Russia saw that India’s policy has always been different from western countries.
He says that India did not support Russia but looking at the language of the western countries and its sanctions, he also said that this matter will not be resolved in this way. Prime Minister Modi clearly said in his conversation with the Russian President that this is not the time for war. But India did not even support the condemnation proposals of Western countries against Russia in the United Nations.
According to him, this made it clear to Russia that unlike western countries, India is following its independent foreign policy in these matters. This is the reason why Russia is seeing India as a pivot in a multi-polar system.
It is being said that after the coming of the Modi government in 2014, India’s foreign policy is taking a turn and it is looking more independent? Well-known Indian journalist Nayanima Basu, who covers foreign and security matters, says in response to this question, India has tried to follow an independent foreign policy from the beginning. Earlier it was called the policy of non-alignment and now it has changed to the policy of strategic autonomy.
However, Nayanima says that in recent times there has been a slight change in this. Under the Modi government, India has been turning decisively towards America. However, it has maintained its stand of advocating a rules-based global order.
Conflict between India and China
The question is whether India has been able to pursue an independent foreign policy since 2014 or is it being exaggerated.
Sanjay Kumar Pandey says, the earlier governments also tried to keep foreign policy independent to a great extent. But in view of the Crimea and then the Ukraine crisis, the Modi government has shown the clarity of its country’s foreign policy.
He says, it is not that India’s independent foreign policy is being exaggerated. Examples of this are visible. Despite US sanctions against Iran, India continued to cooperate with Iran on the Chabahar project. India took membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization i.e. SCO during 2016-17, whereas it is believed to be an organization influenced by China. On the other hand, India’s participation in the Quad can be cited as an example of cooperation with Western countries.
Lavrov sees the triumvirate of Russia, India and China ie RIC playing a major role in the new global order. But will it not be overshadowed by the strained relations between China and India?
Sanjay Kumar Pandey says, it is okay that there is tension between India and China regarding the issue of border dispute and trade, but there has been cooperation between the two on many issues such as the environment and the question of trade deal in the international forum.
Permanent membership of the UN Security Council
In the Primakov Readings International Forum, Lavrov suggested that India and Brazil should be preferred over Germany and Japan for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. India and Brazil can add more value to the Security Council because of their international and regional perspectives.
But Nayanima Basu says that this decision will not depend only on Russia’s decision. China can stop India’s claim.