The foreign and defense ministers of India and the United States convened for their fifth “2 plus 2” dialogue in New Delhi on November 10, 2023. We should state that the existence of this format of negotiation is undeniable evidence of a high level of trust in relations between the states. The same configuration of dialog takes place in the Russian-Indian multidimensional interaction.
The “2 plus 2” format round of talks held in the Indian capital this year reaffirmed the unique strategic nature of the relationship between Washington and New Delhi as well as the parties’ intention to deepen meaningful dialogue on important areas of bilateral cooperation and urgent global and regional issues.
This New Delhi stance, however, is more in line with the multi-vector orientation of this significant Asian power’s foreign policy path, which also claims global stature, and does not contradict the especially privileged nature of India’s strategic cooperation with Russia. India, the world’s fifth-largest economy, is highly renowned internationally in addition to being a model of economic development. India has joined the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Security, along with Australia and Japan, with the help of the United States. Again, New Delhi’s participation in this interaction framework does not preclude it from active participation in organizations such as BRICS or SCO, nor does it hinder its relations with Russia.
Despite the fact that it causes concerns for China. This is the reality of the Indian leadership’s balanced foreign policy, its desire to strengthen cooperation with key international players, primarily Russia, the United States, and the European Union, against the backdrop of the much more complicated nature of relations with China, the existence of a territorial problem, and a lack of proper trust and understanding between these neighboring states.
This time, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received separate substantive meetings between Foreign Ministers Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Antony Blinken, and Defense Ministers Rajnath Singh and Lloyd Austin, in addition to the “2+2” meeting.
The talks focused on the two nations’ strategic and military-technical cooperation, with an eye toward bolstering security in the Indo-Pacific area ahead of the next summit of the four nations early in the following year. The parties called for a de-escalation of the situation in the Middle East and the commencement of negotiations, reinforcing their stances in light of current global and regional developments. India and the US stressed the necessity of putting an end to the conflict, the mounting toll that hostilities are taking on the world economy and food security, and the significance of Ukraine’s post-conflict rehabilitation.
The discussions concentrated on critical areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly in the defense industry. They talked about the acquisition of over $3 billion worth of drones, the manufacturing of armored vehicles in tandem for the nation’s ground troops, and the procurement of US weapons for the Indian Army, including combat aircraft engines. They also concurred that coordinated military drills and improved operational compatibility between the two states’ armed forces were necessary.
Concluding this ministerial meeting, it is important to acknowledge that the United States has made significant progress toward closer ties with India, mainly through increasing defense cooperation in spite of our military-technical exchanges with this nation. In this instance, the Indians will undoubtedly discuss the necessity of diversifying the sources of foreign armaments and the inviolability of the groundwork for fruitful cooperation with Russia.
The Americans seemed to have emphasized China’s role in the negotiations in every manner imaginable, citing Beijing’s purported dangers to the Indo-Pacific area. Nonetheless, the fictitious justifications they offered were consistent with New Delhi’s cautious and circumspect attitude toward its neighbor.
In brief, it is evident that the primary goals of US diplomacy in the area are to further enrage Indians against China and to try to poke a wedge between the historically tight strategic alliance involving Russia and India.
It is believed that the astute Indian leadership will not fall for Washington’s ploys and deceit. Having reached the correct decisions, New Delhi will carry on its tried-and-true path of further normalizing relations with China, enhancing ties with Russia, and working with the BRICS and SCO in order to create a more democratic multipolar global order.
Anvar Azimov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Senior Research Fellow of Moscow State Institute of International Relations, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.