Global Express | Great game in Himalayas: Russian Roulette or Chinese Checkers

Today’s focus is India navigating the perilous waters ahead as we attempt  – not always successfully – at  keeping our friends close and our enemies closer.

IN THIS CASE, a friend – as in Vladmir Putin’s Russia –

and an enemy – in President Xi Jinping’s China -  with whom there has been no direct bilateral engagement beyond a pull aside at Bali and at Johannesburg since the Galwan clash of 2020.

Now, days after India announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation Summit on July 3-4 a miss – with External Affairs Minister Jai Shankar representing India at Astana instead - Moscow, announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first official Bilateral state visit after he took office for a third term would be to Russia.

President Vladimir Putin,- a virtual international pariah, who brought war to Europe’s doorstep - had even said he was looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Modi at the Kazakh capital – but that isn’t to be-  Instead an India-Russia summit is on the cards –

And now, in a signal that he remains intent on expanding China’s influence over the Global South, China’s president Xi Jinping raised the Panchsheel Principles of 1954 – the Nehu-Chou-en-Lai meet-in Bandung to resolve the border impasse.

Xi is beginning an unprecedented third term as China’s President.

AS is Modi  as Prime Minister – and Vladimir Putin has just won a fifth term as President as well.

ALL OF THIS BEGS THE 5 Big QUESTIONS-

ONE- ARE WE SEEING A NEW GREAT GAME IN THE HIMALAYAS?


TWO - IS THIS RUSSIAN ROULETTE?
OR CHINESE CHECKERS?

THREE—IS THIS INDIA, BEING NUDGED BY RUSSIA TO START A POLITICAL DIALOGUE WITH BEIJING?

Four - how does India navigate between its new ally UNITED STATES - which it cannot alienate - and old ally Russia - chief arms supplier, and most reliable source of cheap oil!

FIVE, how worried should India be over Pakistan - a china proxy - becoming a member of the UNSC for two years - while India itself is out of the intl human rights council, - Does this mean india needs Russia more than ever!


Today, discussing the path forward on whether India should play along with this RUSSIAN ROULETTE  are two stalwarts on the region.

Ambassador Ashok Kantha  is a former Indian diplomat , who served as Indian Ambassador to China, High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka and as India's High Commissioner to Malaysia. He is currently, Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi. And a Distinguished Fellow at Vivekananda International Foundation.

ALSO ON THE SHOW is Phunchok Stobdan, who served as Indian Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan. Formerly, a senior fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, he is founding president of Ladakh International Centre.  An academician, diplomat and author, he has earlier served in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), and is known for his plain speaking on China.

Stobdan is author of The Great Game in the Buddhist Himalayas: India and China’s Quest for Strategic Dominance.

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