Defence

Taking Russia’s help on China and US on Maldives — a new Indian realism is underway

From the deserted Ladakh plateau north in the Himalayas, where Indian and Chinese soldiers have been facing off for the last four months or so, to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean lapping 1,192 beautiful coral islands of the Maldivian archipelago on both sides of the Equator, India’s new realism is in full sway.

On 10 September, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar led his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in talks in Moscow, facilitated by the Russians, to broker disengagement in Ladakh; while the phrase “status quo ante” did not figure in the joint statement that emerged later, New Delhi is convinced that it’s better to persuade the Chinese to return to its own side of the Line of Actual Control (another phrase that did not figure), rather than quibble over three words.

Also on 10 September in the US, Maldivian defence minister Mariya Didi and the US pointperson in the Pentagon for South Asia Reed Werner signed a framework for defence and security relationship to “deepen engagement and cooperation in support of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean…and promotes a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Considering Maldivian Speaker Mohamed Nasheed is coming to Delhi later this week on 20 September, it’s obvious that India is on board.

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