Modi’s Trip To Moscow Was Much More Important Than Most Observers Realize

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi just completed his first trip to Russia in half a decade and put an end to the several-year-long hiatus in annual meetings between their leaders. The outcome was nine agreements on a wide range of subjects along with a detailed joint statement for guiding their special and privileged strategic partnership to 2030. There were no landmark deals, but nor should any have been expected, since the meeting was only planned recently for the reasons that’ll now be explained.

Modi’s Trip To Moscow Was Meant To Assess The Reliability Of Russia’s Geopolitical Balancing Act” after his hosts sent eight signals since the start of the year hinting at an impending pro-Chinese pivot, which the reader can learn more about by reviewing the preceding hyperlinked analysis. The indisputable personal rapport between him and Putin during their two days together put an end to concerns about Russia preparing to privilege China over India and thus breathed new life into trimultipolar processes.

This concept refers to the paradigm of dividing the world into three internally diverse groups: the US-led West’s Golden Billion; the SinoRusso Entente; and the informally Indian-led Global South. These three groups became more prominent after the global systemic transition was unprecedentedly accelerated by Russia’s special operation, though they predate that development. Prior to then, however, International Relations could best be described as being in a state of Sino-US bi-multipolarity.

What’s meant by this is that everything was trending towards an unofficial division of the world between China and the US where everyone was pressured to some extent to take one or the other’s side. A return to the pure bipolarity that marked most of the Old Cold War till the Sino-US rapprochement was always unlikely because there were already some strategically autonomous emerging players. Likewise, despite the US, China, and India being the informal leaders of their groups, none have full control over them.

Therefore, this present tripolar system can best be described as tri-multipolar, with the key axis being the Russo-Indo Strategic Partnership since it prevents the American and Chinese superpowers from coming together to revive bi-multipolarity in the event of a New Détente between them. Russia’s perceptible shift towards China since the start of the year, which was detailed in an earlier analysis, caused serious concern in India because it suggested that Moscow was abandoning their shared grand strategic goal.

Before those eight signals were sent, India assumed that Russia would continue cooperating with it to accelerate tri-multipolar processes with a view towards midwifing complex multipolarity, which required neither Russia nor India pivoting towards China or the US respectively. What changed over the past year was the emergence of a pro-BRI policymaking faction in Moscow whose members concluded that Sino-US bi-multipolarity is inevitable so it’s best for Russia to turbocharge China’s superpower trajectory.

The ruling establishment’s balancing/pragmatic faction had a tough time fending off their “friendly rivals”, the latter of whom compellingly argued that their envisaged policies would represent the sweetest revenge against the US after all that their adversary did to Russia since 2022. This explains the signals that Russia sent since the start of the year hinting at an impending pro-Chinese pivot, which finally prompted India to dispatch Modi to Russia to investigate what’s really going on and why.

He considered this to be such a priority for his country’s objective national interests that he broke with tradition by traveling to Russia as the first trip of his third term instead of to a nearby country like usual. The timing also coincided with the annual NATO Summit, thus showing that India is strategically autonomous of the West and impervious to its pressure to curtail ties with Russia. The official US criticism that followed only served to reinforce the aforementioned points.

Russia is always happy to host Modi, even more so than usual due to the timing that was described above as well as the fact that it was his first visit to the country in half a decade, which is why such pomp and circumstance were prepared for him. His three-hour-long informal meeting with Putin at the latter’s dacha was presumably when those two friends candidly discussed the most sensitive aspects of their countries’ strategic partnership and clarified the confusion caused by Russia’s recent pro-Chinese signals.

They clearly worked everything out as proven by their exuberant mood during those informal talks and the official ones the day after. Putin even awarded Modi Russia’s highest civilian honor, the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, thus showing his country’s pro-BRI faction that he doesn’t approve of their plans to pivot to China. Instead, Russia will continue to pragmatically balance between China and India, thus reaffirming its tri-multipolar grand strategy and putting an end to bi-multipolar speculation.

To be sure, the pro-BRI faction isn’t going away and will continue to make their case that Russia’s best interests are served by acknowledging the supposedly inevitable reversion to Sino-US bi-multipolarity and accordingly turbocharging China’s superpower trajectory, but few in Moscow will listen to them. The most spectacular achievement from Modi’s trip to Russia wasn’t whatever they formally agreed to, but him and Putin informally agreeing to redouble their joint efforts to accelerate tri-multipolarity processes.


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