Wargames with Russia and China: 'A fine balancing act' by India
The view emerged as India on Thursday sought to allay "concerns" expressed by the United States. White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said that the US has concerns about any country exercising with Russia while the latter wages an unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine. But, of course, every participating country will make its own decisions.'
Vostok 2022, a week-long multinational military exercise being hosted by Russia, has commenced in the far-east part of the country, with the Indian Army contingent participating in the strategic command and staff drills. However, the naval component of the Indian armed forces would not be participating in the exercise going to be held in the Sea of Japan. Experts believe that New Delhi wants to maintain its balance with both powers.
The view emerged as India on Thursday sought to allay "concerns" expressed by the United States. White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said that the US has concerns about any country exercising with Russia while the latter wages an unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine. But, of course, every participating nation will make its own decisions.'
Asianet Newsable reached out to an expert to understand the context of India participating in the military exercises given the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Dr Swasti Rao, Associate Fellow at Manohar Parrikar-IDSA's Europe and Eurasia Centre, said: "India has said no because New Delhi and Tokyo are the key strategic allies. They have 2+2 dialogue also. When New Delhi was invited, it accepted but limited itself to strategic command and staff exercises only."
Why is India not joining the maritime component?
According to Dr Rao, Japan and Russia have a dispute over an island known as Kuril Island. The Russian side has stated that the navies of Russia and China will exercise in the Sea of Japan to protect sea communication. But the point is Japan had asked Russia not to do any exercise out there because it is about the sensitive area of Kuril Island.
"But Russia did not listen to that and said that its Pacific Fleet and China PLA (Navy) will take part in the drill in the Sea of Okhotsk and Sea of Japan," she said.
She further said that 'India is fine-tuning its balance with the power centres'.
Dr Rao said, "It is a fine balancing act by India and reiteration of New Delhi trying to engage multiple power centres while simultaneously keeping its own national interest. After all, India still has an independent approach to engaging the power centres. I think these points stand out and make the particular event more interesting. This is also a signal to the western powers that although we have deep relations with Russia, at the same time, we will take into account the sensitivities of other key strategic allies like Japan."
"It further reiterates the position of India as an independent foreign policy player," she added.
It must be noted that this is the first multinational military exercise that Russia is hosting after it launched the war against Ukraine in February this year. The exercise, which is taking place at multiple locations, will conclude on September 7.