Diplomatic visits, more often than not, are routine, more a function of bureaucratic necessities than of any real strategic significance. Most visits of foreign dignitaries to India or elsewhere hardly transform the underlying dynamic of the bilateral relationship. But sometimes, the tone and tenor of the engagement manages to convey more than either side perhaps intends to, thereby hinting at a fundamental transformation.
Last week India hosted two important visitors – Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and the United States (US) special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry. They did not come to sign any major documents or make dramatic declarations. These were routine visits, one to lay the groundwork for a potential Russian presidential visit to India and the other to assess Indian intentions on climate. But these short visits revealed much more about the state of play in India-Russia and India-US ties than any formal policy document.
While Lavrov asserted that India and Russia “are tied through a strategic partnership and at the heart of our partnership is the long-lived friendship between our nations and proximity of our stance on relevant international issues and our friendship,” it was evident that the partnership is drifting away from its strategic orientation.