Intensive diplomatic maneuvers with India exposes US’ limited leverage
Published: Mar 30, 2022 10:48 PM
US-India Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US-India Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will arrive in India on Thursday for a two-day visit, Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the matter. Meanwhile, top officials from the US and its allies will also visit New Delhi around Thursday. 

The While House said on Tuesday that Indian-American Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Daleep Singh is scheduled to visit New Delhi on Wednesday and Thursday. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is set to visit India on Thursday, and German Foreign and Security Policy Advisor Jens Plotner had a day-long trip to New Delhi on Wednesday.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is at a critical time and all sides are constantly seeking to gain more support. India is in a delicate position and is being strongly courted by the US and its allies. 

India's neutral stance has triggered dissatisfaction in the West. What's more, New Delhi's purchase of Russian energy may render economic sanctions from the US and the West much less effective. Against this backdrop, Washington and its allies have ramped up their attempts to rope in India.

Washington first sent its close allies in the Asia-Pacific to lobby India. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited India on March 19 and 20. On March 21, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a virtual summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. But they failed to persuade New Delhi. Then it's the turn of Washington's allies in Europe, such as the UK and Germany, even as the US has been sending its own top officials. Last week, Washington sent three top US diplomats to India. This time, the US seems to try to curry favor with India by sending an Indian-American diplomat. It can be concluded that Washington is attempting many diplomatic means to woo India to increase pressure on Russia.

It is the US-led NATO's eastward expansion that triggered the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The international community is fully aware of it. Washington is eager to change its awkward position as the conflict drags on. Under electoral pressure at home, the Biden administration also wants to build a united front and desperately hopes India goes on its side.

"Washington's moves of repeatedly sending its top officials and allies to lobby New Delhi indicate that its leverages to deal with Moscow are limited," Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. "Most countries across the world, even some of US allies and close partners, have not joined the US in sanctioning Russia. This is a huge political and diplomatic defeat for the US and the West."

"Washington's lobbying or even coercing other countries to side with it on the Ukraine crisis is an unpopular practice that will only further undermine its international credibility," Lan Jianxue, head of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.

India has been sanctioned by the US before. And India must be aware that many of the benefits that the US and the West have promised to India are just lip service and will not be delivered. New Delhi is expected to learn lessons from the Ukraine crisis and Washington's related moves toward India and review its relations with India. Instead of blindly following the US, pursuing its own interests and adhering to its independent foreign policy can help India maximize its own value.