Unsurprisingly, along with many other issues facing India, Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine – one of its biggest recent mobilizations – is not attracting much attention. But it should. What happens in Europe will not stay in Europe. In 2014, the Russian annexation of Crimea created problems for India.
And if Moscow resumes military action against Ukraine, it will significantly complicate India’s goals vis-à-vis Russia, China, the United States, Europe and even Ukraine. First, it would hamper Delhi’s interest in preventing a deepening of Russia’s ties with China.
A possible Russian military action against Ukraine and the reaction of the West would mean that Moscow will need even more diplomatic support from Beijing. Beyond the strategic challenge of a close Sino-Russian partnership for India, a closer Moscow to Beijing would be particularly problematic at a time when India is dependent on Russian military supplies and when tensions at the Sino-Indian border could burst again.
If Beijing asks Moscow to take certain measures (for example, to stop military supplies to India), what will Russia do at a time when its need for China is acute due to a crisis with Ukraine? It should be borne in mind that in 1962, when Moscow needed Beijing’s support during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this led to Soviet support for ally China against friend India at a pivotal moment in the Sino-Indian war.
The Russian military action against Ukraine would have hindered Delhi’s suggested approach to alleviating sinuous obligations or feeding the friction between them – than the West, particularly the United States, stabilizing relations with Russia.