As war continues in Ukraine, many U.S. analysts fear both Russia’s adventurist and autocratic playbook and the lessons China will draw from it. But for India, a major U.S. partner, the war in Ukraine is playing out differently. Ukraine risks distracting from the rise of China and, at worst, bolstering it.
Much has been written about India’s relationship with Russia and how that affects its position on Ukraine, but the analysis of India’s positions in the conflict are incomplete without taking into account the history of India’s relationship with China. India and China’s historic border dispute is central to understanding their contemporary relations and India’s preferences on the Ukraine war’s outcome.
For New Delhi, the Ukraine conflict’s best-case scenario is a quick resolution that advances the emergence of a multipolar world in which both Russia and the U.S. balance a rising China. This is a fundamental reason why India is reluctant to condemn Russia, for fear of Russia perceiving India as choosing to side with the U.S., and thereby driving it into a closer relationship with China. India’s worst-case scenario may be that the U.S. would mend its relationship with China in order to sideline and contain Russia. New Delhi also is concerned that the Russia-created playbook in Ukraine offers China a lesson, not in relation to Taiwan as the U.S. fears, but for India’s border territories. Those who point out that Russia would not support India in the event of a war with China should understand that India would not necessarily expect it to do so. Rather, India trusts that Russia is likely to return the favor and stay neutral.
For more on how the history of the Sino-Indian border affects current relations, read the full article published on Barrons here.