India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi Lands in Moscow Amid Fears of Multipolar World Order

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down in Moscow on Monday, set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin over a two-day state visit. However, the significance of the visit was not lost on foreign policy observers, with some interpreting it as a deliberate bid to carve out an independent diplomatic path from the rest of the world.

According to Indian officials, the visit represents a resumption of traditional bilateral summits with Russia, which was interrupted by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Modi and Putin are expected to focus on a range of issues, including ongoing energy cooperation and trade agreements that have benefited both countries since the Ukrainian war.

Others saw the visit as an attempt by Modi to signal his determination to manage relations with Russia on his own terms, despite growing pressure from Western leaders to isolate Putin and push for peace. Putin, meanwhile, may aim to showcase the strength of the Russia-India partnership, which has been a pillar of his foreign policy since he first came to power.

Some concerns surround the visit, with Indian officials worried about the Kremlin’s increasing ties with regional rival China and India’s significant trade imbalance with Russia. Behind closed doors, Putin may face questions from Modi about Russia’s growing closeness to China, according to Petro Topychkanov, an analyst at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Business Insider speculated that Modi may be deliberately trying to irritate the United States and Europe by meeting with Putin at a time when NATO is meeting to discuss the Ukraine crisis. The visit is not going unnoticed in Washington, where US officials have reportedly raised concerns with India over the optics of the visit.

The Washington Post took the most pessimistic view of all on Monday, interpreting the simultaneous visits of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Moscow and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to Beijing as harbingers of a “multipolar, non-Western world order” on the rise.

The symbolism of Modi’s Moscow arrival, mere hours after a brutal Russian missile strike on Kyiv and other Ukrainian major cities, was unmistakable.

Orbán himself sparked outrage among European leaders with a trip to Moscow last week, prompting Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to criticize the move, stating that Orbán was sending a “disturbing signal to the international community.” Modi’s actions convey a similar message, inadvertently reinforcing China and Russia’s claims that Western powers are unable to facilitate a peace agreement in Ukraine.

John Hayward
John Hayward
I'm a conservative because there is so much about the American tradition that is worth conserving.

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