Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Delhi beginning Monday, a Moscow-based political analyst has said that the Russian-Indian axis remains strong and isn't affected by third parties' pressure.
He also said that Moscow respects New Delhi's right to clinch whatever partnerships it wants with other countries but it expects that they won't be directed against any third countries.
Andrew Korybko, an American Moscow-based political analyst, told ANI that enhanced partnership with Russia helps India recalibrate its multi-alignment policy towards Eurasia "after it tilted heavily towards the Indo-Pacific in recent years".
"Against the context of US-Russian tensions and especially the US' threats to sanction India under CAATSA for purchasing Russia's S-400 air defence systems, this shows that the historical Russian-Indian axis - which is among the most enduring in the modern era - remains strong and isn't affected by third parties' pressure," he told ANI in an email interview.
Korybko said India is showing the US that "it'll confidently multi-align in whichever directions it believes is to its grand strategic benefit".
"In this instance, India requires the world's best air defence systems in order to bolster its defences against China and Pakistan, which the country regards as its top threats," he said.
"Russia is willing to help it do so because it hopes to maintain the balance of power between India and China, its top two strategic partners with which it closely cooperates in BRICS, the SCO, and especially RIC. The Kremlin's strategic calculation is that maintaining the balance of power will encourage a political solution to their disputes," he added.
Korybko, who writes various publications and also for the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a think tank, said economic ties must be enhanced in order to successfully diversify their special and privileged strategic partnership in a comprehensive way.
Besides defence, he talked of the scope of developing bilateral ties on the economic front, epidemiological cooperation, Eurasian connectivity.
"Resource, railway, technological, and shipbuilding cooperation, among other examples, provide promising avenues to achieve this. The epidemiological aspect concerns optimizing Sputnik V's production in India while the Eurasian connectivity angle involves the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) and Vladivostok-Chennai Maritime Corridor (VCMC). Afghanistan is mutually important since the Taliban has signalled that it would like India to return to investing in this geostrategically positioned country, likely to help counterbalance rising Chinese and Pakistani influence after the group returned to power.
"The Great Power balancing part of their meeting will likely see the two countries further align their grand strategies with an aim towards maintaining the balance of power and interests in Eurasia so as to accelerate the emerging multi-polar world order," he said.
Asked if Moscow is concerned about India's increasing engagement with the US, Korybko said "Russia respects India's right to clinch whatever partnerships it wants with third countries, but it expects that they won't be directed against any third countries".
Over India's induction of the S-400 defence system, he said President Putin "is most likely looking to thank India for its loyal commitment to purchasing his country's S-400 air defence systems despite the US' CAATSA sanctions threat."
Lauding India's decision for sticking to the S-400 deal, the analyst said the decision spoke of the "pragmatism of the Indian leadership".
"That decision spoke of the geopolitical wisdom and pragmatism of the Indian leadership. It presumably put to rest Russian concerns that India was surrendering its sovereignty and abandoning its multi-alignment policy to become the US' 'junior partner' for containing China, which could have also had direct negative consequences for the Russian-Indian military-industrial partnership."
Korybko said Putin will likely seek to further diversify the special and privileged strategic partnership away from its military-industrial focus and towards more economic, technological, and integrative directions.
"In particular, this could see some deals signed for Russian companies to invest more in India, further technological cooperation (including on vaccines), and more progress on the and especially the VCMC. Basically, this visit will try to take their historical partnership to the next level, helping it evolve with the times and remain an axis of stability and certainty in Eurasia," he said.
Putin is visiting India for the India-Russia Annual Summit. The inaugural meeting under the 2 + 2 dialogue mechanism will also take place during the visit. (ANI)