torsdag 17. mars 2022

India risks being sidelined in an increasingly polarized Indo-Pacific regional architecture

While India’s “Act East” Policy may seem a world away from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the war has implications for New Delhi’s eastward engagement. This comes amid renewed pressure on India’s longstanding proclivity for non-alignment and strategic autonomyin its foreign policy. There were already signs that New Delhi was pivoting away from this approach following the clash with the Chinese military in the Galwan Valley in June 2020. Notably, the recent conclusion of a contract with the Philippines for the export of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile signals an effort by India to take a more assertive posture in the region by supporting the Philippines in strengthening its coastal defense capabilities in the face of the persistent Chinese threat in the South China Sea.

However, while non-alignment is losing relevance for India in the context of the China-U.S. face-off (as New Delhi leans toward Washington and away from Beijing), it still remains a key component of its positioning in the Russia-U.S. relationship. Russia’s growing pariah status will apply pressure on New Delhi, forcing it to make difficult choices. India’s Act East Policy will be a key test of this.