Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India called Xi Jinping a “dear friend,” and the Chinese commander-in-chief called Modi his “best and bosom friend.”
However, Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s unwarranted attack on Ukraine has thrust Moscow’s former friendly relations with the Asian powers into scrutiny.
The two nations, China and India, have declined to criticize Russia’s vicious attack directly, and both refused to vote on United Nations Security Council and General Assembly motions calling for Russia to cease its assault on Ukraine.
However, with the West outright stating that nations that do not rebuke Putin’s invasion are considered associates to Russia, the two most populous countries in the world are experiencing growing global pressure to sound off or face the likelihood of being viewed as conniving.
Both nations have not set out anything to do so, conveying that Russia has a colossal power in Asia, where arms trading and flat-out barter have enabled Moscow to manipulate regional fault lines and fragile relations to the West.
Meanwhile, in the US and Europe, officials have issued their response to the assault as part of a more expansive ideological warfare to protect democratic freedom and the rule of law.
However, for two of Asia’s leading countries, those lines are faint, leading experts to conclude that their own ulterior motives prompt India and China.
Previously, during the Beijing Winter Olympics, Xi and Putin said in a 5,000-word statement that Russia and China’s relationship had “no limits.”
Last year, the two nations achieved a bilateral trade of $146 billion and remained to keep the tradition of joint training with a large-scale combined military practice. They share a border of 4,000 kilometers (2,458 miles) long.
China is Russia’s leading trade partner; however, Russia doesn’t reach China’s top five.
Meanwhile, India’s relationship with Russia is challenged by China. India has sought to overthrow China’s increasing power in the Asia-Pacific area.
In 2018, India signed a weapons deal worth $5 billion with Russia for an air defense missile system, even with the awareness of the sanctions America could put via the US side’s Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
“This isn’t about going against the West or supporting Russia,” Happymon Jacob, an associate professor of diplomacy and disarmament at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said. “(India’s government) hasn’t explicitly supported Russia, but they have to take a more careful, nuanced approach.”
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.