DC Edit | Modi\'s hardsell in Europe

India’s stand vis-a-vis the war and Russia may reflect the wisdom of having no eternal allies or perpetual enemies

In the geopolitical landscape that has shifted thanks to the war raging in Ukraine, India appears to have explained its stance of strategic neutrality better to European countries than it has to the US. It might appear contradictory that India — more deeply committed to its ties with the US now than ever before in history — is more in sync with European leaders at the moment, which is the impression gained from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s whistle-stop trip to European capitals.

There was an inevitability to Ukraine being the key word in all bilateral talks since the countries Mr Modi visited have reasons to feel more threatened by the Russian invasion than the US. India’s stand vis-a-vis the war and Russia may reflect the wisdom of having no eternal allies or perpetual enemies but only serving interests that are eternal and perpetual. There may have been some explaining to do and India’s success lies in having achieved that satisfactorily.

It might have helped that many EU nations share a somewhat similar ambivalent outlook though their dependence has more to do with Russian gas and oil than India’s defence preparedness, which is so reliant on Russian military hardware and regardless of how efficient that may appear post the events since February 24 and the aggression against Ukraine. India’s position as a key player in any emerging India-Pacific scenario seems to have given it the heft in Germany, Denmark and France.

What may be of greater significance are the discussions on trade and actions to be taken regarding climate change in which Germany’s commitment to an additional 10 bn euro for India to enhance its green and sustainable role in the Indo-German partnership was particularly important. India’s trade with the EU may be less than its trade with its three leading trade partners in the US, UAE and China but things may be changing with the strengthening of bilateral ties to encourage more trade so as to lessen everyone’s dependence on China in a post-Covid world.

The Prime Minister’s high-profile engagements at a sensitive time in world affairs and his meetings with at least seven leaders of countries may have helped enhance ongoing and emerging areas of trade, technology, defence and strategic cooperation.

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