By BRIC or luck: Modi has shown Putin the money, can he satisfy Xi now?

By: S Raghotham
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A slew of military deals, amounting to $10 billion, restoring Russia to its position as India's pre-eminent defence supplier; a broadened energy partnership spanning nuclear (foundation stone laid for the Kudankulam power plant's units 3 & 4), oil and gas, including cross-investments in Indian and Russian entities (India has invested $5.5 billion in the Russian oil and gas sector in just the last four months, tweeted MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup; and Russian oil major Rosneft is to buy the troubled Essar group's oil refinery, port and petrol pumps for $13 billion); a partnership in even renewables, where the world hasn't heard much from Russia; a billion-dollar Russian investment in Indian infrastructure and India showing keenness to deepen connectivity and economic ties, including joining an Eurasian free trade area; a new joint Science & Technology Commission, putting India-Russia relations on the same footing as the broad India-US relationship; and some very nice words of friendship and praise for both Russia and personally for its strongman Vladimir Putin -- "an old friend is better than two new ones", "I am aware of your deep affection for India. Your personal attention has been a source of strength in our relationship", and "In a complex and changing global context, your leadership has provided stability and substance to our strategic partnership"!...

So, we are agreed then, that terrorist state Pakistan is nobody's friend?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulled out all stops in his embrace of the Russian bear on Saturday on the sidelines of the BRICS summit. In return, Putin gave India some comfort on India's fight against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, backing India's recent surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control in Kashmir, and signing up to a new anti-terror pact. Will all this be enough to keep Russia away from Pakistan, with which it recently held its first-ever military exercises, for long, at a time when a natural Russia-Pakistan-China alliance is developing just as a natural India-US partnership is growing?

[Also Read: Bear-hug: How Modi intends to keep Putin happy, and away from Pakistan]

If pleasing Russia proved that expensive, the challenge with China's Xi Jinping will be even greater. China's need to use Pakistan as its strategic cat's paw, its Cuba, against India overrides China's economic goals with India. Could India signing up to be a junior partner in China's 'Silk Road' project be enough to wean it away from Islamabad? Can Modi convince Xi to lift his hands off the lid on India joining the NSG and on the UNSC declaring Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist when the two leaders meet this evening? Or, will today's meeting prove conclusively that the BRICS is a grouping of disparate countries with divergent, even mutually antagonistic, strategic goals that cannot sustain much longer as each is called to choose sides in what China has already warned is a coming new 'Cold War'?

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