As India-China tensions along the Line of Actual Control continue to escalate, India decided to pull out of Russia’s Kavkaz 2020 (or the Caucasus-2020) military exercises (September 15-26), where it was scheduled to participate alongside other Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states. While COVID-19 was cited as the official reason, it was the situation on the border with China that most likely prompted this decision.
LAC issue and Moscow’s role
New Delhi’s decision has led to questions about the possible impact of deteriorating India-China relations on the India-Russia partnership. Earlier in June, the Russia-India-China Foreign Ministers meeting, convened at Moscow’s initiative and coming days after violent border clashes that led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers, ended without an official communiqué. It is hardly surprising that ongoing conflict between two prominent members, and both close partners of Russia, has given rise to concerns about its impact on India-Russia ties.
But this is only one side of a complicated story. Moscow has been playing a quiet diplomatic role during the recent border clashes without actively taking sides.