ABOUT RUSSIA-INDIA-CHINA TRILATERAL
The idea of the “strategic triangle” was first mooted by then Russian prime minister in December 1998.
He was the first important visitor to India after its nuclear tests, and it took time for trilateral talks to take place on the side-lines of UN General Assembly. From 2006, these turned into stand-alone formal foreign minister meetings.
The RIC has since been working together in various regional and global organizations, including BRICS, SCO and BASIC, and has come to be viewed as a restraining force on any unquestioned Western hegemony.
WHY IS THIS MEETING OF SIGNIFICANCE?
- It would have been another run of the mill meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral but for the fact that it came exactly a month after the much-discussed India-Japan-Australia-US ‘Quad’ meeting on the sidelines of the East Asia summit
- The Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to India was the first high-level Chinese visit to India post-Doklam. Initially planned for earlier this year in April, the RIC meeting had to be postponed as the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi could not come. Though Beijing denied it, it was seen as registering a protest against India allowing Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh.
- The RIC trilateral was New Delhi’s balancing act in its attempt to restore ‘multi-alignment’ in its foreign policy. The Russia-China-India trilateral engagement started off as an attempt to balance the US unipolarity
- After the inauguration of the strategic Chabahar port recently, India and Russia are keen on making substantive progress in the development of the 7,200-km International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that links India, Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia with Europe.
- All three countries are world powers with significant interests in the Eurasian and Asia-Pacific strategic spaces
- Terrorism-India made a case for strengthening cooperation among the three countries in effectively countering terrorism and naming Pakistan-based terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the RIC communique, citing a similar move by the BRICS grouping.the India-China-Russia trilateral, for the first time, called for cooperation to take decisive and concerted action against globally-proscribed terrorists and terror entities.
- International and regional peace: They held that cooperation is conducive to maintaining international and regional peace, stability and promoting global economic growth and prosperity. They stressed for establishment of just and equitable international order based on international law and mutual respect, fairness and justice.
- Arms Race: They called for prevention of arms race in outer space for maintaining international peace and security. Russia and China reiterated that they welcome India’s participation in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
OTHER THAN THESE, DISCUSSIONS WERE HELD ON
- The political scenario in the Middle East and North Africa was discussed.
- Challenges in putting the world economy back on the growth track were outlined.
- Transnational organised crime
- Illicit drug trafficking,
- Food security, and
- Climate change.
WHY IS THIS TRILAETRAL BEING CALLED ‘ABOUT EVERYTHING YET NOTHING’?
- Rapidly evolving geopolitical realities are generating new global equations. The RIC trilateral of the 1990s is losing its relevance as China and Russia are re-evaluating their foreign policy options.
- India too is coming to terms with China’s rise and Russia’s growing closeness to China..
- For China and Russia, balancing against the US is their top strategic priority. For New Delhi, managing a rising China is now an urgent concern. As a consequence, the trilateral has limited utility for India apart from providing a platform to demonstrate that it wants to continue to engage Russia and China
- It’s the India-Russia and India-China bilateral that are more consequential. Russia and China’s growing closeness is now a reality that India has to factor in its own foreign policy calculations