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India likely to stay neutral over Ukraine in defiance of US pressure — analyst

According to Andrey Kortunov, India has already made up its mind and the chances it may reconsider its stance again look slim

MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. In all likelihood New Delhi will prefer to stay neutral on the issue of the Ukrainian crisis and firmly resist Washington’s pressures, the general director of the Russian International Affairs Council, Andrey Kortunov, told TASS on Tuesday.

"The way I see it, the United States’ opportunities for putting pressures on New Delhi are rather limited. India has already made up its mind and the chances it may reconsider its stance again look slim. Of course, it is appropriate to assume that India will firmly resist US pressures," he speculated.

Kortunov explained that India at the moment was keen to "stay aloof from the Ukrainian conflict." "It has been calling for an end to hostilities and the search for peace agreements, but at the same time avoided criticizing Russia in public, let alone taking anti-Russian sanctions," he stressed. Yet the analyst foresees certain challenges to Russian-Indian military and energy cooperation.

Struggle for the Indian market

Kortunov speculates that the US sanction policy may force India to reduce cooperation with Russia in a number of spheres, including the military-industrial complex.

"The United States is introducing sanctions against many countries that maintain military-technical and energy cooperation with Russia. There is a certain risk that India might suffer from exterritorial sanctions and be forced to curtail cooperation with Russia on some tracks," he said.

Whereas before Washington pursued a rather flexible policy towards India as a means of containing China, and military-technical cooperation between Moscow and New Delhi remained unhampered by and large, now the US may take a harder line.

"The United States proceeded from the assumption that the strengthening of India’s military potential might be a factor for China’s containment. For this reason, it made certain exceptions in relation to India’s cooperation with Russia. Washington displayed great tolerance when certain type of contracts were concluded by India, but took a far harsher attitude to other countries’ intention to make such deals for the simple reason China was seen as Washington’s strategic adversary to a far greater extent than Russia," he said.

Kortunov pointed to a rather acute struggle among Russia, the United States and other countries for India’s market of weapons.

"Firstly, the United States has long competed with Russia for the Indian market of military hardware with varied success, but the US share on the Indian market has been growing slowly but surely. For the time being it remains considerably smaller than Russia’s presence, but such a trend does exist," Kortunov said.

On Monday, Washington saw a two-plus-two meeting of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.