What the meeting of India and Russia's foreign ministers means for the United States

NPR’s Juana Summers talks with Rajan Menon, director at Defense Priorities and scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, about Russia and India’s foreign ministers’ meeting. JUANA SUMMERS, HOST: India’s top diplomat is in the middle of a five-day visit to Russia. Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar met today with his Russian counterpart and President Vladimir Putin to discuss their economic ties and security. And this meeting comes at a delicate time. India, a major power that the U.S. has been courting, has maintained friendly relations with Russia even after their full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. And India has propped up Russia’s economy by being a major consumer of their oil. So what could closer relations between the two mean for the U.S.? To unpack all of this, we’re joined by Rajan Menon. He’s the director of the Grand Strategy program at Defense Priorities, which is an American foreign policy think tank. Welcome. RAJAN MENON: Hi. SUMMERS: I want to start with a big-picture question if we can. India and the United States are close partners, but India is also working closely with Russia. Help us understand this dynamic. MENON: So during the Cold War, India’s true and tested friend was Russia and that was for two reasons. The main Indian threat came from two countries, Pakistan, which was an ally of the United States, and from China, which for most of the Cold War was odds – at odds with Russia. So there was almost a natural alignment between the two. In the post-Cold War period, that has changed. Gradually, India has shifted toward deepening its economic and security ties with the West not at the expense of Russia, but Russia certainly has become somewhat less important to India and is very much aware of that. […]

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