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  • Prime Minister’s Visit to Moscow: Need to Revitalise the India-Russia Partnership

    India-Russia ties will continue to be mutually beneficial. While defence cooperation remains the mainstay, the two countries can explore common synergies in co-developing more weapons platforms with cutting edge technology and organise more joint military exercises.

    October 21, 2013

    PM’s Visit to Russia and China: Need for Smart Diplomacy

    Clubbing the visits to Russia and China is a smart move. But the prime minister will also need to indulge in smart diplomacy to deal with a number of ticklish issues and will have to convince his counterparts that Indian foreign policy is independent and follows national interests.

    October 21, 2013

    Ahmed Zahran asked: What is the latest position of the US, the EU, Russia and China on the Iranian nuclear issue, and what are the possible outcomes of the ongoing negotiation?

    S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: The US, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom (P5) and Germany (the P5+1) are currently giving push to the 'engagement' track with the latest round of talks which began on October 15, 2013 at Geneva. While existing unilateral and multi-lateral (UNSC and EU) sanctions are in place, no additional sanctions are as yet being contemplated as a part of the 'sanctions' track.

    The 'dual-track' policy of sanctions and engagement has till date not shown much progress in modulating Iranian behaviour. It is pertinent to note that in the past, as the nature and volume of sanctions increased, Iranian intransigence correspondingly increased. Iran for instance suspended its voluntary implementation of the IAEA Additional Protocol (AP) after its referral to the UNSC in February 2006.

    However, various reports as well as Iranian officials have acknowledged the vulnerable state of the Iranian economy and its currency as a result of trade and oil-related sanctions. President Hassan Rouhani's overwhelming victory defeating candidates like Saeed Jalili (who was the chief nuclear negotiator) has given rise to the strong perception that the Iranian public have rejected the confrontationist approach of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Government. Supreme Leader Khamenei has also supported the path of dialogue, crucially in a speech to the IRGC commanders in September 2013. With the Obama Administration showing its commitment to the dialogue process, the hopes for progress at the current round of negotiations are huge.

    Possible outcomes could range from Iran signing the IAEA AP, temporarily suspending its enrichment activities, the shipping out of excess quantities of enriched uranium (a possibility alluded to by the Iranian Parliament Speaker) in exchange for graduated sanctions relief, provision of spare parts for its civilian aircrafts, among others in a 'grand bargain'.

    These elements are in the realm of the 'possible' given the unique circumstances surrounding the current negotiations, including Rouhani 'the pragmatist' being in power, Khamenei's support for negotiations, weak state of the Iranian economy, and the positive vibes generated by the renewed interactions between the US and Iran topped by the first telephonic conversation between presidents of the two countries in more than three decades.

    Northern Sea Route: Humming with Activity

    As the ice thins in the Arctic, the commercial feasibility of the northern sea route is increasing rapidly. Five years ago there was no activity; this year about 1.5 million tonnes of cargo will be transported through the NSR.

    August 27, 2013

    Sovereignty is the Key to Russia's Arctic Policy

    It was the privately-sponsored Russian expedition to the North Pole in August 2007 that opened a new competitive era in Arctic geopolitics, and the technologically elegant PR-trick with planting the flag into the crisscross point of meridians on the depth of 4,261 m produced a resonance that distorted strategic thinking about, and political interactions in the Arctic region.

    July 2013

    Future of Golden BRICS

    With the successful holding of the fifth summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) in Durban during March 26–27, 2013, this influential group of emerging economies completed its first important phase of genesis and evolution. The idea was floated in 2001 as an ‘acronym’ created by an investment banker of Goldman Sachs, Jim O'Neil who believed that the fast-growing economies of Brazil, Russia, China and India would be the single greatest game changers in coming times.

    July 2013

    Redhu Sekhar asked: Are Russia & China supporting the Syrian Army? If yes, then why?

    Rajeev Agarwal replies: Both Russia and China are supporting the Syrian regime, and have made all attempts to see that efforts of the US-led lobby to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power, politically or militarily, does not succeed. They have not let any UN resolution pass against the Syrian regime till now.

    As regards their support for the Syrian Army, Russia has direct military interests in the Syrian Armed Forces. It is one of the biggest suppliers of arms to Syria including the often disputed S300 missiles. It would, therefore, be fair to assume some sort of moral and equipment support from Russia for the Syrian Army. Direct support in terms of getting involved in fighting with or for the Syrian Army, is not yet reported or come out. Also, Russia is not likely to take that choice as it could blow out into a regional military conflict.

    As regards China, it has supported the Syrian regime ever since the uprisings broke out. It however does not have any military interest and is unlikely to support the Syrian Army directly. Some kind of technological or intelligence support can't be ruled out. However, China's support for Syria seems to be more based on certain ideological fears and on political grounds, contours of which are quite different from the possibilities of a direct support to the Syrian Army.

    Russia and the Geopolitics of Cyprus Bailout

    The Cyprus crisis has highlighted the existing geopolitical fissures between Russia and the European Union and raised the proverbial ‘east vs. west’ conundrum. President’s Putin’s Eurasian Economic Union project and Russia’s growing engagement with countries of Asia indicate the turning of wheels.

    June 14, 2013

    Russian Military Reforms: An Evaluation

    The military sector reform is a top priority for Vladimir Putin, who believes that these reforms will go a long way in achieving Russia’s military and comprehensive national power objectives. The on-going military reforms have come a long way since they were first introduced in 2008. Most of the structural reforms have already been implemented. The material reforms, which are necessary to ensure that the structural reforms deliver, are progressing well, notwithstanding difficulties such as corruption, availability of limited resources, and recession.

    May 23, 2013

    BRICS comes of age at Durban

    BRICS is not challenging the existing world order. It is seeking a place in the sun for developing countries. It is looking at alternative approaches but there is no desire to seek confrontation with the West.

    April 01, 2013

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