Country Report: Russia (May 2022)
The February 4, 2022 joint statement of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping launched a new phase in Sino-Russian relations, which acquired clear meaning when Russia went to war in Ukraine. Articles reviewed here cover the impact of the war on Russian thinking about bilateral relations in the Asia-Pacific region, but we start with how the joint statement was understood on the Russian side. This is followed by how the “Turn to the East” was perceived in light of the war’s impact. Coverage turns next to writings on the South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and India. Throughout these summaries of Russian thinking, there is one consistent thread on who is responsible for Russia’s troubles, i.e., the United States. The persistent message is that Washington is excluding Russia from the region and pressuring states more in 2022 to turn away from decades of improving ties with Moscow for US hegemonic goals.
Little is said about Russia paying a price for the Ukraine war or about the US gaining any advantage in the Indo-Pacific region. Some writings have more bravado than others about how the US has dug a hole for itself or South Korea has put itself into a more dangerous environment. The costs to Japan and South Korea are showcased, not the price that Russia may pay for sanctions against it. Yet, a pair of specialists on the Sino-Russian relationship do raise doubts about China’s willingness to help Russia rather than to take advantage of the unfolding situations..
The prevailing message is that the February 4 joint statement marked a success for Russia and China, that the US pressure on countries to put sanctions on Russia is done against their own interests, and that India is a weak partner in the Quad and in US plans to contain China. Somehow, multipolarity survives in Russian thinking and Russia has no need to fear becoming a junior partner of China while India fears this with the US.
Sino-Russian Relations and the “Turn to the East”
S.G. Luzianin in Aziia i Afrika, No. 2, asked what Beijing’s message on “borders” of security on February 4 meant. The joint statement, he notes, announced a new era of international relations, qualitatively expanding the scope of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership with emphasis on economic issues and values. Important too was China’s support for Russia’s position on security guarantees in Europe. Yet, the statement declares there is no need yet to forge a military alliance even as a bilateral bloc is sought in energy cooperation and payment systems to bypass the US-led one. Given the growth of bilateral trade by one-third in 2021, a Greater Eurasian Partnership is rapidly taking shape, increasing the interface of the EEU and “One Belt, One Road,” leading to “indivisible security,” “multipolarity,” and a “community of common destiny.” Transformation is envisioned in the international architecture established in the 1990s, including universal values and alliances. Maps of conflict are widening between Russia and the US and China and the US in Eastern Europe, the Asia-Pacific, and the Indo-Pacific regions. The February 4 meeting is seen as decisive not only bilaterally but as a conceptual platform for the existence of all of humanity. Attacking the notion of the West imposing its democracy, the joint statement is seen less as a defensive warning than as a blueprint for going on the offense.
The article claims the democracy is not first in the hierarchy of human values, but an ideological weapon of the West for intervention in the internal affairs of others to impose its exclusive values. Without saying as much, this opens the door to doing the same, as followed in Ukraine. As world powers with rich cultures, Russia and China have the right to autonomy. China’s experience in the pandemic and economic recovery will be celebrated at the 20th Party Congress in the fall, readers are told. Yet, the thrust of the article is the joint fight against undermining stability and interference in internal affairs, such as “color revolutions.” Opposition is declared to NATO expansion and other alliances and coalitions, including AUKUS. They have undermined stability in Europe and Asia, crossing a “red line” in Eastern Europe for Russia, for which China supports Russia’s formulation of security guarantees in Europe. Russia and China have a single agenda of security. The “red lines” Russia identities are the same as for China. they agree on a Eurasian zone of strategic defense and security from the western Pacific to the Eastern European side of the Black Sea.
Should there be an alliance between Russia and China? The February 4 declaration has undoubtedly stimulated further discussion of that, one reads, along with the opinion that the idea of deep integration has been discussed for some time, including concern about the economic asymmetry in the relationship. One point raised is that the “pre-war” situation facing both obliges them to go to unprecedented military integration and coordination of national security strategies, mutually supplementing each other’s military-technical resources, of which Russia has the advantage in the strategic component. A second point is that Russia helped China in building a syst3em warning against missile attacks. A third point is that Russia and China are a de-facto “bloc” with agreement that in case of a threat of aggression against one or the other, they will quickly consult in order to eliminate the threat. This goes beyond consultations, reflecting new forms of alliances without any need to declare such, which would change little. Conflict in Ukraine, Central Asia, the South China Sea, or Taiwan would not cause a change.
The Russian side approved a “community of common destiny, and the Chinese affirmed the justice of a multipolar system of international relations—two concepts that might appear at odds. Their statement calls for fighting for the preservation of the current international structure of the world, by which is meant the UN and other entities at odds with US-centered arrangements. Further ideas on connecting the Russian and Chinese frameworks of regionalism were noted here with suggestions that the risks for Russia are not serious. After all, the two sides agreed on the absolute equality of the EEU and the BRI. The West is deemed at odds with peaceful coexistence. The Russian-Chinese strategic partnership has been transformed into a new global center of power with a shared agenda. seeking a new international architecture. The approach taken allows Russia to preserve its independence and tactical flexibility. A balance is achieved between Russian military and strategic domination and Chinese economic and technical leadership. There is no older and younger brother yet in this relationship.
On May 15 in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Aleksandr Lukin wrote that the “special operation” had accelerated the long-declared “Turn to the East.” Not only had the strategic situation in the entire world shifted, it had fundamentally changed in Northeast Asia toward sharp polarization and consolidation of forces. He characterizes one side as working for a multipolar world and the other for US hegemony. Others took sides. Of the states in the region only North Korea fully supports Russia, which is motivated by being subject to the same unjust sanctions, imposed to strengthen US hegemony in the struggle for independence from the US. Now the role of North Korea for Russia will grow as the two draw closer and Moscow joins Beijing in not only blocking new sanctions on it but more actively demands the removal of existing ones and tries to go around them—a tendency visible since the first Ukraine crisis in 2014. As for South Korea, Russia will be much more negative after its break from past policy in March and election of a pro-US, anti-Russia leader.
Lukin proceeded to discuss Japan, charging that Kishida from the time he took office in 2021 has dismantled Abe’s system of cooperation with Russia. Its onerous sanctions and revival of the claim that the disputed “Northern Territories” are “occupied by Russia” were accompanied by more pro-American and anti-Chinese positions as well as firm support for the Quad and the Indo-Pacific concept, which are not only anti-China but anti-Russia.
China de-facto supports Russia, blaming the crisis on NATO expansion, expresses understanding for Russia’s position and its striving to secure its security. China also sharply criticizes US sanctions. It fears that a defeat for Russia would lead the West to devote more forces for the containment of China, applying the same sanction on it. The weakening of Russia is seen as dangerous for China.
Lukin insists that a security architecture had existed in Northeast Asia, possibly leading to Six-Party Talks, despite North Korea’s nuclear arms, but the entire security system will have to be basically reconsidered. The Taiwan situation will become more dangerous too, as the US is already feeling free to abandon arrangements that have stood since the 20th century. Deeply dissatisfied with China’s position in support of Russia, the US is using the threat of raising the level of its relationship with Taiwan as one prong in its pressure along with the threat of secondary sanctions on its companies cooperating with Russia and more severe criticism for “violations of human rights.”
The US will exert more and more pressure on the ROK and Japan to cut ties with Russia. They will pay a big price. Japan relies 13% on Russian coal for producing electricity and may be pushed to lose Sakhalin oil and gas, a lifeline for its security. South Korea buys even more coal, and substantial direct investment in Russia may be lost due to US pressure. In conditions where the US and its allies demand Russia’s exclusion from APEC, the EAS, and other forums, will friendlier countries to Russia refuse to participate. The region may be left without effective, multilateral formats. Economic problems in Japan and the ROK could result in a serious economic crisis in all of East Asia, cutting imports from China, whose problems then would spread to a global crisis. If Russia’s operation ends soon with an agreed ceasefire, all of this may be avoided, although earlier conditions will not quickly revive.
In any case, the new situation demands a new level of cooperation between Russia and China in opposition to the US and its Northeast Asia allies. Given Russia’s accelerated turn to Asia, countries should expect more energy from it as a force for regional stability. Given the growing turbulence in Europe, China also will prioritize stability in Asia. Reacting to US threats of secondary sanctions, China should tighten its ties to Russia as both face hostile US policies. Facing not only Russia but economically powerful China cooperating in this region, the other side is at a disadvantage is the essential message in this article.
In Novaya Gazeta on March 28 Irina Tumakova wrote that when Russia declared its “Turn to the East” China distanced itself. She asks how Russia should see China now: a partner in the competition with the West, a competitor, or a partner with whom ties have frayed? Many myths about China are in Russia’s information space. To start, China perceives Russia as a European country, not part of Asia or Eurasia. The worst nightmare for China is Russia drawing close to the West. China’s geopolitical and geo-economic ties to Russia are very complicated. If trade with Russia fluctuates around 95-110 billion, with the US it is almost 1 trillion and with Europe 800-900 billion dollars. This is why China supported sanctions from 2014, and we see no change now.
Mikhail Karpov acknowledges that in 2014 China gave Russia a lot of credit to cover currency needs and may do so now, but that is not help. Credits in yuan are for buying Chinese goods, not a path for deep, strategic integration. Since the Jiang-Yeltsin 1996 Shanghai declaration, China has tried not to frighten Russia, while always saying there will be no expansion of China into Siberia. When the new appeared that Russia may have asked China for military assistance, the Pentagon threatened, and everyone said there was no such request. It is not happening. If Russia were to promise China something very attractive in exchange, what would be the answer. There are no such carrots for China that would lead it to quarrel with the West. It gets natural resources, and it might be interested in military industrial complexes with, but Russia would never give them away. In 2015, Russia offered control over some energy companies, but China was totally uninterested. It does not want to go deeper into Russia; not a potentially stable and reliable partner.
From 2000 to 2014 Putin’s policy to China was sound, supporting Yeltsin’s 1996 agenda, cooperating on shared interests and not interfering with each other where they were absent. Taking a new turn in the Ukraine crisis of 2014, Russia strongly reoriented to China. China did not need it, and began to de-facto distance itself from Russia. It rejected an alliance. The Chinese press reposts the crazy version of the Russian ministry of defense on biological weapons supposedly being developed in Ukraine. On the one hand, China suppresses its bloggers who try to convey the Ukrainian position. On the other, it declares that it supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. It sits on two stools, waiting for events to unfold.
The author sees China quietly increasing those who sit on the US stool, decreasing those on the Russian stool. Talk that the US is ready to withdraw some of the Trump tariffs could matter. The US has more to offer than Russia. Some say that China benefits from strains between the West and Russia. This was true in 2007-14, when strains emerged, but this year since February 24, 2022 they have been strategically disadvantageous. China did not want a confrontation, forcing it to make a choice it cannot do. China may broaden trade quotas not using dollars. It cannot agree to embargo on Russian energy. It will issue political statements that it understands Russia’s policy, but its aim in wording it to express concern for NATO expansion not to approve the “special operation.” No expansion of investments in Russia or purchase of Russian assets should be expected. In 2022 Xi Jinping needs stability.
On March 30 in Nezavisimaya Gazeta Vladimir Skosyrev wrote that when Lavrov met Wang Yi, China had promised to stand by Russia, strengthening relations. Yet the article notes that this meeting was not front-page news in China, perhaps because it wanted to distance itself from the conflict and avoid secondary sanctions. Wang Yi expressed the wish of both sides to strengthen ties., but claims to hold unified positions rang hollow, given China’s desire to stay out of the conflict and Wang Yi’s separate statement to the Swiss president that they are agreed on extinguishing the fire as soon as possible. How will China respond to new US warnings against economic cooperation of China and Russia, if US components are involved, said by the US to be 25% of China’s exports to Russia? This even applies to exports created with the help of American equipment. The US reminded Chinese officials that ZTE was heavily fined in 2018 for supposedly violating sanction through sales to North Korea and Iran. Already, hundreds of companies have stopped doing business with Russia. China depends on many Western production inputs and has to show restraint, Skosyrev adds warily.
A Chinese expert said, US measures apply to a limited number of Chinese firms, e.g., mobile phones or computers. Most trade can go forward; China, Lukin argued, would not be a guarantor of an agreement on Ukraine unless it were a UN decision. It would not take responsibility. He added that China’s pledge to stick with Russia should be taken seriously since it does not benefit from a weak Russia, leaving it alone with the West.
On April 27 in Kommersant Alexander Gabuev asked if China would extend a hand of friendship to Russia in its complicated time. Two months after the start of the military operation in Ukraine a simple truth has been affirmed, however, Russia cannot count on the unconditional support of China. While Beijing continues to speak publicly about an unprecedented level of friendship with Moscow, it will cautiously proceed with practical cooperation and do nothing that the US and EU could view as helping the Kremlin bypass the sanctions.
There is nothing surprising here, adds Gabuev, given the response after the annexation of Crimea and start of the conflict in Donbas. Chinese tell Ukrainian and Western politicians that they strive for peace, that they only knew of the start of operations from the news, that they support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and that they do not recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk republics and Crimea as Russian. To Russians they say they do not support unilateral sanctions on Russia and criticize US alliances in Europe and Asia. China will not be forced to take sides. Internal propaganda takes Russia’s side, another chance to tell citizens of the destructive role of insidious America. It buys a lot from Russia, requiring a discount, but not what is sanctioned. It is just too dependent on the capital and technology of the West.
Nearly all that China imports from Russia except weapons and certain machines, it can buy elsewhere, and Russia is far from a big export market for China. It is difficult to predict Russia’s future economy. Any new incidents of death of Ukrainian civilians can elicit new sanctions. It is still early for China to decide with which Russian partners it can trade. Each day the Chinese negotiating position with Russia improves. China will grasp that it is not so much that the US is inclined to impose secondary sanctions as that China can use this situation for maximum advantage, while not forgetting to repeat that Russia has no better friend than China. This is Gabuev’s warning about Chinese conduct.
On April 27 Viktor Pirozhenko argued in Izvestiya that the US was trying to draw Taiwan into a crisis similar to that in Ukraine, adding that the risk of strategic opposition to Russia and China would be a “geopolitical nightmare” for the Biden administration. The US presence on the borders of both is a threat to their security, as it seeks to restore its hegemony in the world. Having crossed a “red line” in Ukraine, it is in danger of converting the “Taiwan problem” into the “Taiwan crisis,” while arousing China’s neighbors with warnings of a “China threat” and violating the principle of “one China,” standing as the foundation of Sino-US relations. In this way, an illusion is cultivated in the administration of Taiwan that there is no need to engage in a constructive dialogue with the mainland.
Aiming to isolate China, the US strives to draw new countries into its Indo-Pacific game—a strategy that will fail, as has the policy to isolate Russia. It seeks to use the Quad to join with NATO in an anti-Russian and anti-Chinese agenda, but Chinese experts observe that of late Indian media have grown more cautious in covering Sino-Indian relations. In the Ukraine crisis India too takes a position independent of the United States. Vietnam also affirmed that it is sticking to good relations with China. The failed US schemes to provoke crises in Ukraine and Taiwan are destructive, above all, for the US, alienating it from countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the author says.
In Profil’ Andrei Lankov wrote on April 22 that quiet on the peninsula of almost the past four years appears to be over, He charges that Trump in 2017 hinted that the US was ready to strike a blow at North Korean nuclear objects and war could break out, but neither Pyongyang nor Seoul was pleased, and the DPRK acted to buy time and lower the odds of a US attack. It hoped for a resumption of the talks begun in 2018 with a new US administration and was ready for compromise but not to discuss abandoning nuclear weapons in return for a radical reduction in sanctions. Biden, however, was so burdened with internal and foreign problems that it had no resources for talks with North Korea, and it understood that even if talks succeeded, Congress, the press, and public would not treat this as a diplomatic victory. Pyongyang, thus, abandoned restraint in late February by launching a new rocket, presumed to be able to travel 15,000 meters, and other new models.
Past nuclear tests were often to spur talks, but those are not on the horizon with either the US or the ROK. Rather that often assistance to stabilize North Korea, South Korea had turned to containment, and the North turns to China for food and fuel, either free or subsidized. Thus, the only reason for tests now is purely military-technological, building on remarkable successes. Pyongyang is free to proceed in a world busy with Ukrainian matters, and food and energy crises. The world will have to live with a nuclear North Korea, which would approach compromise with a solid arsenal and ask a high price for concessions.
Andrei Lankov on May 7 in Valdai club wrote about Yoon Suk-yeol, the incoming ROK president, warning of a “policy of strategic ignoring not “strategic tolerance” of North Korea. He is a hawk, but he lacks the means to do sanction more than the ROK has done before. From 2008 to 2018 conservatives destroyed all the linkages that could be used for pressure. Even Moon would not violate the UN sanctions. Propaganda operations could sharply expand, but the North would take that badly, and in the South, they would be seen as extreme and threatening the desired stability of the North. In practice, there is no enthusiasm for unification, given the enormous costs and social consequences.
Politicians fear instability in the North from unification, especially with WMD involved. The status quo is preferred with peaceful coexistence, although the left proposes the path of economic cooperation, not pressure and forceful answers to provocations. Advisors to Yoon condition economic cooperation on serious steps on the path to nuclear disarmament. Contacts will, thus, be frozen. Subsidies would be required, which means taxpayer funds to the Kim family, and no contacts are preferable. The prospect of armed clashes on the border is growing with escalation promised. Neither side is known for restraint when that is needed. A dead-end in relations may persist for the entire five years of Yoon’s tenure.
On March 21 Georgii Bulychev wrote in RSMD wrote of bifurcation in relations with South Korea. The ROK stands with the West in the Ukraine conflict, if not in the front ranks, and Russia responds by calling it an “unfriendly country.” But that does not mean Russia lumps Seoul with European enemies. Yet the scale of its sanctions cannot go unpunished. The prospect of political dialogue has darkened, and the victory of the conservatives will deepen the problem. Economic ties will suffer a severe blow, and it is unclear how to remedy that. To date, the ROK has had little interest in Eastern Europe, but Western pressure and public opinion has forced a reaction. More important is the long-range perspective that the current conflict between the West and Russia is but the precursor to a great conflict with China, and Seoul must not sit on the sidelines. Russia lost the information war in South Korea, even to the baseless notion that Kim Jong-un would one day take similar action against South Korea. To speak out on Moscow’s behalf has become dangerous for one’s career. Despite the ROK’s own interests, experts on Russia say going against the will of the ROK ally is not advisable.
All achievements in thirty years of overcoming negative stereotypes of Russia are lost with no hope ahead for many years. At first the Moon administration was restrained about fully subscribing to the sanctions of the West, which aroused hysteria in Washington, leading to pressure and results published on March 4. This administration acts based on its own national interest, understanding Russia’s role in managing the peninsula and that its transition to support for the DPRK and departure from the sanctions against the North would be a very unpleasant scenario. A balancing role of Russia is important in giving Seoul freedom of maneuver between the US and China, antagonists on the Korean question. Seoul also has a lot to lose economically, e.g. as a purchaser of ships and as a market for 370,000 car sales in 2021. Samsung has 20% of the smart phone market. They are leaving the Russian market due to the dictates of the West against their will and values. They know that China will fill these niches and fought to apply their own export controls, not the US ones. Korean decisions are a catastrophe for economic cooperation. All trade may even halt.
South Koreans sought to avoid such a scenario by any means, which is a good sign for overcoming the pause in cooperation. President Yoon will strengthen ties with the United States, contain China, and increase pressure on North Korea. None of these moves bodes at all well for Russia. Also, he plans to boost relations with Japan. An integrated missile defense of the US, ROK, and Japan could emerge. Seoul would be more actively involved in the Indo-Pacific strategy directed against China. We predict that it will join the Quad, om the basis of which with AUKUS is arising a version of Asian NATO. After the special operation in Ukraine began, Yoon associated the response to it with the struggle against Japanese colonialism, saying Russia was behaving like a colonial power to a weak neighbor. Russia policy will be tightly controlled by Washington with no independence in bilateral relations. In 2019 Putin already warned of a “deficit of sovereignty.”
The pre-election conceptual document of Yoon was promising for Russia, but this will remain on paper, given US will. If South Koreans think that Moscow is not in a position to offer much help to North Korea, they might think again if military-technical help to the North is extended or a Russian base is built there. There is no risk in that, and it might pay dividends. Blindly copying pressure by the West on the DPRK is not in Russia’s interest, even it can hardly tolerate an arms race in rockets and nuclear weapons, which could cause Seoul to go nuclear and undermine Russian security. North Korea’s nuclear arms apparently do not pose that problem. Yet, the article cites experts that state South Korea is the “weak link” in the united front against Russia, and that too should be kept in mind.
On February 22 in Nezavismaya Gazeta Valerii Kistanov discussed Japan’s concerns as it turns to assistance for Ukraine. Under the weight of anti-Russian rhetoric about an “attack on Ukraine,” Japanese mass media and politicians are not falling behind their US and European colleagues. Japan has no real interest in security in Ukraine or puts containment of Russian “aggressive politics” in the forefront, but it must show solidarity with the West. Japan is alone in the East in its attacks on Russia. A clear example is its readiness to cut natural gas imports at the behest of Washington. Japan is applying such pressure in connection with Russia’s refusal on the territorial question. It has much to lose due to rising oil prices and possible reverberations in security in its region, as the US is unable to restrain China’s expansion due to its refocus on Europe and China might seize the chance to move on the Senkakus or reunite with Taiwan, while Russia and China grow closer in on an anti-West and anti-Japanese basis. Japan’s chances of receiving the four islands will be further reduced too. So far, at least, Tokyo is not prepared to burn its economic and political bridges with Moscow due to energy interests, territorial calculations, and the shadow of China. The article ends on this decidedly contradictory note.
On March 27 Kommersant covered Japan-Russia relations, noting that Russia has rejected talks over a peace treaty with Japan or cooperation over the Kuriles. It has stopped visa-free visits to the islands by Japanese. These are responses to “unfriendly steps by Tokyo.” Kishida joined anti-Russian sanctions of the West, and he traveled through the Indo-Pacific region to convince others to do so. After Putin’s 2018 last agreement with Abe, there was progress on either a peace treaty or joint economic activity. As recently as February 7, on “Northern Territories Day,” Kishida and the Russian ambassador both spoke of efforts ahead, but Japan has ruined it all, banning the export of 300 items and technologies among other harsh measures, with an eye to cutting energy imports but minimizing the losses for Japan and excluding Sakhalin-1. In India Kishida pressed his case far from the Ukraine crisis, which does not affect India’s interests and did not get a public condemnation of Russia’s course from Modi, who never mentioned Ukraine.
In Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn’, No. 3, Sergei Velichkin wrote about Indian foreign policy, praising its high demands on diplomacy. He claims that over 75 years of its independence there has never been a quarrel with Moscow. Now the main challenge is the pandemic. Vaccine levels are high, and the economy roared back in the third quarter of 2021 after severe disruptions from a second wave of the virus. Use of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, produced in India, was widespread. The US later agreed to India producing its vaccines for wide distribution in “vaccine diplomacy” versus China. India has resisted US anti-China measures in security, blocking mention of China or even the word “security” at the September 24, 2021 Quad summit. The main success of the summit was vaccine diplomacy, in line with Indian wishes, which also sought no increase in military strains of “containment” of China. The military component of the US “Indo-Pacific strategy” was pushed in the AUKUS format, from which India “sharply distanced” itself. Yet, the possibilities are rising that India will be drawn into emerging conflicts.
Examples from Xinjiang to the Senkakus of China’s threat do not touch on India. It has longstanding friendship with China, although it has jealously responded to “One Belt, One Road,” seeing rising competition nearby. A complex border issue left by British colonialists led to military conflict in 1962 and the absence of border markers. Both sides have been building near the line of control, arousing suspicions and clashes. The result was weakening of restraining forces between the two sides and a stimulus for the Quad as a counterweight to China. One could find China’s rising military presence, as its third aircraft carrier, a challenge only if one ignored the escalating US maritime presence in waters bordering China, argues Velichkin. He sees competition between two centers in the multipolar world taking shape, not close US ties.
The US has plans for India despite that country’s opposition to blocs. The “summit of democracy” tried to draw India into the US agenda despite its repeated demurrals. Luring India into becoming a junior partner of the US in an anti-Chinese alliance is planned. The Quad agenda could acquire the functions of AUKUS. Yet in trade China surpasses the US in India’s imports and in arms purchases. Despite problems of Russian producers that hallowed the US to gain a foothold, Russia remains a major supplier, as in the purchase of the S-400 system.
Modi’s September 2021 visit to the US did not change anything in principle. He met with Vice President Harris, whose mother was from India, but that fact has not transformed relations. Despite a rapidly growing and highly educated Indian diaspora, the Indian lobby is not very effective. Many in the diaspora are critical of Modi’s domestic policies after rapid “Americanization” of their self-identity. Biden’s words of prioritizing India are contradicted by all of the other issues high on his agenda. The US flight from Kabul was taken badly. Indians ask if it is worth it to put all their eggs in the American basket. To cope with the Afghan situation, India has turned to its old partner Russia and to the Russia-India-China format and SCO. In December 2021 Putin visited India. It was noted that drawing close to the US weakens ties to traditional friends, and awareness was shown that objective factors make inevitable close Russo-Chinese relations. Noted too was the intensifying US pressure on Russia, especially in connection with events in Ukraine. Indian analysts have concluded that the country intends to continue its geopolitical balance between two forces, the SCO and Quad, the article concludes.