Neutrality, an instrument of foreign policy power

As the war in Ukraine drags on, pressure mounts on India to clarify its ambivalent position of “strategic autonomy”. As the world order continues to be in flux, India, as a growing power spanning the developed and developing world, must find its place in this ongoing overhaul.

India’s position is complicated – at least as complicated as the mess “out there”. Recent events in Pakistan are a reminder that Rawalpindi ruled Islamabad. A rupture in New Delhi-Moscow ties could pave the way for a partnership between Russia, China and Pakistan. Russia wants to tie India to itself – offering heavily discounted Ural-grade fuel is a way to gamble with India’s strategic autonomy. China continues to try to push the “Asia vs. World” narrative to isolate India from the West. India needs to emphasize its place in a complicated “splattered earth” scenario during its clashes with Western powers.

S Jaishankar’s “six principles” brought India to the corner of Ukraine – dealing with a powerful neighbor with intentions on their territory. New Delhi drew no punches, urging Moscow to respect the countries’ territorial integrity and sovereignty. A continued duel between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden will help weaken Russia against China. Since a stronger China is undesirable for India and the world, Narendra Modi must use India’s neutrality to get Putin to end the war and choose dialogue. As the human toll of war mounts, India’s strategic autonomy feels more like opportunism. India must accept that compromise is inevitable and must shed its Cold War-era post-colonial mindset and root its response to its commitment to democracy, open societies and partnerships for prosperity – without openly falling into camps. Neutrality, an instrument of foreign policy power

Russell Falcon

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