NEW DELHI: “China doesn’t have a veto on Russia’s arms relationship with India and will be able to deliver the S-400 air defence system in a relatively short period of time,” Dmitri Trenin, Director, Carnegie Moscow tells StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P.Revi in a conversation along with Nandan Unnikrishnan, Distinguished Fellow, ORF. Dr Trenin argues Beijing will not be allowed to interfere with the centrepiece in the India-Russia partnership-the military relationship-despite Russia’s strategic partnership with China. ” We (Russia and China) will never be against each other, but we don’t always have to be with each other,” he says, adding, “Russia will not drag its feet,” vis-a-vis arms to India.
India and Russia have seen a flurry of political and diplomatic interactions after the China LAC standoff and the Galwan clashes that killed 20 Indian soldiers and an unpublicised number of Chinese personnel. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin are believed to have discussed the expediting of key defence supplies, including the S-400s in their phone conversation on July 2. On the same day, the Defence Acquisition Council(DAC) approved the purchase of Rs 38,900 crore in various platforms and equipment. The DAC also approved the proposal for procurement of 21 MIG-29s along with the up-gradation of 59 existing MIG-29 aircraft and purchase of 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft. PM Modi was the first leader to speak to President Putin after a vote for constitutional amendments allowed the latter to extend his term till 2036. On Putin going the Xi Jinping way, Nandan Unnikrishnan says, “He’s not walking into the Siberian sunset if he doesn’t feel he has achieved the target of ensuring Russia’s rightful place in the world or if his departure is going to lead to instability,” adding, “No western predictions of his next actions have been right.” Col Trenin, who served in the Soviet and Russian armed forces from 1972 to 1993 agrees, saying, ” Putin is telling the Russian elite, don’t look around for next ‘Czar’. I’m the boss and if I want can continue to be your boss till 2036. But, the decision is mine.” The discussion also looks at broadening the Indi-Russian partnership, especially in the IT, knowledge, oil, gas and mineral sectors after the road map was set by the two countries’ leaders first in Sochi in 2018 and then in the Russian Far East in Vladivostok in 2019.
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, has been with the center since its inception in 1994. He served in the Soviet and Russian armed forces for 21 years, including as a liaison officer in the external relations branch of the Group of Soviet Forces (stationed in Potsdam) and as a staff member of the delegation to the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms talks in Geneva from 1985 to 1991. He has authored and co-written several books including What Is Russia Up to in the Middle East? Cambridge and Should We Fear Russia?
An alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Nandan Unnikrishnan began his career as a journalist with the Press Trust of India (PTI). He was deputed to the (Manohar Parrikar) Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) for two years. In 1995, after 15 years in PTI culminating with a three-year posting to Moscow as the Bureau Chief, he moved to Business India’s Television Channel – TVI. He joined TVI as the News Coordinator for International Affairs rising to head the channel by 1998.