In the time of war: On India’s ties with Europe without upsetting Russia

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Context: Prime Minister three-nation visit to Europe comes at a time when the continent is facing its biggest security crisis since the end of the Cold War.

While bilateral issues are at the centre of these meetings, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the major issue.

What were the key highlights of the tour?

In Germany, the partnership between the two countries was reiterated. Berlin has also announced €10 billion for bilateral cooperation.

India and Germany also unveiled the contours of the next level of their partnership. Germany has said India is its “central partner” in Asia and that close cooperation would continue to expand.

In Copenhagen, the PM attended the India-Nordic summit with leaders of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.

In the last leg, the Prime Minister held talks in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron, who was re-elected recently.

What is the context of the three-nation tour?

The trip comes a few days after the President of the European Commission, Ursula von Der Leyen, visited India.

New Delhi’s neutral position on the war has triggered both criticism and engagement from the West.

India has seen several high-profile visits from the West, with some top officials pressing New Delhi to cut back on trade with Russia, a traditional strategic partner.

Among the Nordic five, Sweden and Finland are now considering dropping their decades-long neutrality and seeking NATO membership.

What did both countries say on the Ukraine crisis?

Both sides showed pragmatism over the Ukraine question.

Germany, like India, has deep economic ties with Russia. For India it is about defence supplies, and for Germany, it is for almost 40% of its gas import requirements.

While the Russian aggression has prompted Germany to raise its defence spending and join the western sanctions regime, it has been reluctant in sending weapons to Kyiv, compared to other NATO members in Eastern Europe.

While Germany’s chancellor urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stop this senseless murder and withdraw your troops”, the Indian PM’s response was more measured. He said that  and that dialogue was the only way out

What is the way forward?

Europe is expected to take a more securitised approach to foreign policy from now, given the direction of the Ukraine conflict

Source: This post is based on the article “In the time of war: On India’s ties with Europe without upsetting Russia” published in The Hindu on 5th May 22.

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