A Trump-putin sum­mit is good news for In­dia

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - HARSH V PANT

Last week it was an­nounced that US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin will meet in Helsinki on July 16. Trump had been keen on this for some time now and given his pen­chant for grand events, he is sig­nalling that the meet­ing is a big achieve­ment. Af­ter a June 27 meet­ing be­tween US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor John Bolton and Putin at the Krem­lin, Bolton de­clared, “the fact of the sum­mit it­self is a de­liv­er­able,” thereby un­der­lin­ing that sub­stan­tive is­sues may not re­ally fig­ure in dis­cus­sions. But ten­sions within the US polity per­tain­ing to Rus­sian in­volve­ment in the US elec­tions re­main high. The Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee has con­curred with the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s Jan­uary 2017 as­sess­ment which laid out the case of Rus­sia’s elec­tion med­dling and con­cluded that Putin was try­ing to help Trump win.

Tar­get­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for send­ing out mixed sig­nals re­gard­ing the Rus­sian se­cu­rity threat, lead­ing for­eign-pol­icy Democrats have writ­ten to Trump urg­ing him to hold Putin ac­count­able for Rus­sia’s desta­bil­i­sa­tion ef­forts, in­clud­ing elec­tion med­dling, sup­port for the Syr­ian regime and the an­nex­a­tion of Crimea.

A one-on-one Trump-putin meet­ing be­ing pro­posed by sec­tions of the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion would be a big win for Putin who wants recog­ni­tion as a global states­man. For the West, this seems the be­gin­ning of the end of the post-world War II global or­der where the US and its trans-at­lantic part­ners stood shoul­der to shoul­der in de­fence of the lib­eral or­der. As Europe’s ties with Rus­sia de­te­ri­o­rate, Trump’s un­prece­dented outreach to Putin is rais­ing ex­is­ten­tial ques­tions in west­ern cap­i­tals.

A cer­tain amount of sta­bil­ity in Us-rus­sia ties is im­por­tant not only for the two na­tions but also for the global or­der which is pass­ing through a phase of un­prece­dented flux. From the is­sues of nu­clear, con­ven­tional arms and cy­ber con­trol to the fu­ture of con­tested spa­ces like Ukraine and Syria, the ter­rain is huge and com­plex. Whether Trump raises the is­sue of per­ceived Rus­sian in­ter­ven­tion in the demo­cratic pro­cesses of the US and other west­ern na­tions will be closely watched by his crit­ics.

While the West is watch­ing with ner­vous­ness, a suc­cess­ful Trump-putin sum­mit is good news for In­dia. De­te­ri­o­rat­ing Us-rus­sia ties have put con­sid­er­able strain on In­dian di­plo­macy. The most re­cent ex­am­ple be­ing the Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries Through Sanc­tions Act, which can lead to sanc­tions be­ing im­posed on coun­tries that en­gage in “sig­nif­i­cant trans­ac­tions” with any of the listed 39 Rus­sian com­pa­nies. In­dia has close de­fence ties with Rus­sia and In­dian armed forces re­main highly de­pen­dent on Rus­sia for strate­gic tech­nolo­gies and sup­ply of spares and main­te­nance. Alien­ation from the West has also drawn Rus­sia into Chi­nese arms caus­ing con­ster­na­tion in New Delhi as the two chal­lenge In­dia on mul­ti­ple fronts.

As Trump dis­rupts an­other for­eign pol­icy con­sen­sus in Wash­ing­ton and the wider West, he can open up new pos­si­bil­i­ties for In­dia which will have to re-imag­ine its ma­jor power part­ner­ships. Whether the Helsinki sum­mit leads to some­thing con­crete or whether it will turn out to be all hype and no sub­stance re­mains to be seen.

Harsh V Pant is pro­fes­sor, King’s Col­lege Lon­don and dis­tin­guished fel­low, Ob­server Re­search Foun­da­tion, New Delhi The views ex­pressed are per­sonal

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.