07 December 2021 09:54
To get an idea of the complexity of the diplomatic mechanism that is transforming the planet, just follow Vladimir Putin’s agenda. The Russian president, even more so than his Chinese friend Xi Jinping or Joe Biden in Washington, plays multiple games simultaneously in a world that is anything but stable.
On December 6, Putin was in New Delhi, where he was warmly welcomed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite the fact that the two countries, once very close, currently maintain problematic friendships: Russia with China, India with the United States. , all against the backdrop of tensions between India and China, which sparked an armed confrontation last year.
Complicating the situation further is the fact that Putin did not show up empty-handed, but handed India his famous S-400 anti-missile system, which will protect his Indian friend from his Chinese friend’s missiles. In Delhi, Putin also signed 28 economic agreements with India during a short but fruitful visit.
It may seem paradoxical, but India and Russia have a vested interest in showing their respective friends that they are not tied. India has considerably moved closer to the United States with both Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and today it is even part of the Quad, a de facto direct alliance against China and made up of Japan, Australia, the United States and precisely India. .
Putin plays a game that suits him, using all the registers at his disposal (starting with the military one)
Russia, for its part, is increasingly closely linked to China, both due to Western sanctions following the annexation of Crimea in 2014 (which pushed Moscow towards the powerful Chinese economy) and in the context of an alliance destined to break western domination.
Neither India nor Russia want to be just secondary partners of rival coalitions. New Delhi is well aware that Washington will be annoyed by the installation of S-400 batteries in India, while Beijing will be irritated by Putin’s effusions in India at a time when tension between the two Asian giants remains strong. These “infidelities” are a sign that covenants are not rigid in today’s world.
On December 7, Putin will speak with Joe Biden, and the environment will be completely different. The videoconference between the two comes in fact in the middle of the Ukrainian crisis. Washington accuses Moscow of preparing an invasion of Ukraine by amassing troops on the border, so the dialogue looks rather dry.
Again, Putin plays a game that suits him, using all the registers at his disposal (starting with the military one) to consolidate what he considers his sphere of influence: the former Soviet empire, including Ukraine. The Russian president resorts to intimidation and tests US commitment before considering his next move.
Amiable with the Indian ally of the Americans, but aggressive with the Ukrainian ally, Putin demonstrates that in this phase of recomposition everything is possible, and in this way he forces his rivals to diplomatic flexibility. The game that the Russian president plays is unlike any other.
(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)