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Pravimal Abhishek: What are the fundamental principles behind the stand taken by Russia, China and India on the Syrian crisis?

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  • Rajeev Agarwal replies: Russia, China and India have taken respective principled stand on the crisis in Syria based on their core national interests, and not only in Syria but the region as a whole. Also, the upheavals in the Arab World in 2011-12 and the international reaction to help usher in new regimes too has been a contributing factor towards their stand. The most striking example is that of Libya where the UN resolution to enforce 'No Fly Zone' and 'Protection of Population' was used as a pretext to launch aerial strikes.

    The position of each of the three countries towards the Syrian crisis is as:

    Russia - For Russia, Syria is one of the most trusted and strategic allies in the region. Syria is a huge market for Russian weapon systems including the latest air defence systems like S-300 and S-400. The port in Tartus in Syria is the only naval base of Russia in the Mediterranean and is therefore of strategic importance.

    China - China has strong economic ties with Syria. It has vetoed all UNSC resolutions on Syria, fearing a repeat of Libya type of situation. China is monitoring the situation in Syria closely, and may re-assess its stand on Syria.

    India - India does not have any major strategic interests in Syria. Neither does it have any major trade linkages or diaspora. The factors that could be influencing India's stand on Syria are its opposition to external intervention in a country and may be partly by the fact that Syria is Iran's key ally. India obviously wants to move forward with Iran, key to many of India's core interests in the region, i.e. energy, transit to Central Asia, etc. It has strongly expressed deep concerns on the continuing and unabated violence, and has called upon all sides in Syria to abjure violence and resolve all issues peacefully. In this regard, India has supported the 6-Point Plan of Kofi Annan.

    For a detailed insight into the Syrian crisis, refer to my comment on IDSA website titled, “Signs of Change in Syria”, dated December 24, 2012, at