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The Geopolitical Impact Of The ‘Israeli’-Emirati Alliance Will Be Felt In Africa

The Geopolitical Impact Of The ‘Israeli’-Emirati Alliance Will Be Felt In Africa

17 SEPTEMBER 2020IS_AF

 

The misleadingly described “peace” deal between “Israel” and the UAE will enable the self-professed “Jewish State” to use the latter’s military and civilian port infrastructure in the Gulf of Aden, thus challenging recent Turkish inroads in this part of the world and allowing Tel Aviv to project itself as a trans-regional power of significance, especially in East Africa and eventually everywhere else on the continent too.
 

From Diplomatic “Peace” To Military Partnership

Israel” and the UAE finally formalized their hitherto not-so-secret ties earlier this week after agreeing to a misleadingly described “peace” deal brokered by the US. The author recently explained the regional strategic and soft power dividends that the self-professed “Jewish State” hopes to achieve through this development in his piece about how “The US-Brokered Mideast ‘Peace’ Deals Aren’t What They Seem”, so this present piece will therefore discuss its most likely trans-regional geopolitical dividends. The UAE commands a vast empire of military and civilian ports across the world, but the most important jewels in its crown are found in the Gulf of Aden region, specifically in Eritrea, South Yemen (including the strategic Socotra Islands), and the internationally unrecognized Somali breakaway region of Somaliland. It’s therefore predicted that “Israel” will soon have access to these facilities for the purpose of projecting itself as a trans-regional power of significance.

Containing” Turkey

Although Turkey hasn’t withdrawn its decades-long recognition of “Israel”, President Erdogan has recently presented himself as the most high-profile supporter of the Palestinians. He’s also at odds with the UAE since the Gulf State fears his ideological alliance with its Muslim Brotherhood foes, especially those based in nearby Qatar. For this reason, both “Israel” and the UAE have vested interests in “containing” the spread of Turkish influence, which they can attempt to do in East Africa by combining their military and other potential in and around the Bab el Mandeb chokepoint following their mutual recognition of each other. It’s unclear how this would play out in practice, but there’s no denying the impact that a more visible “Israeli” military presence in the UAE’s relevant ports would have on changing the regional narrative in all respects. If anything, it would at the very least boost “Israeli” prestige, both at home and in the targeted region, especially the African hinterland where the self-professed “Jewish State” has been silently expanding its influence over the past decade.

The African Angle

To explain, “Israel” already has considerable influence in East Africa, especially in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. It naturally follows that it would like to expand its reach to the littoral region along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in order to entrench its influence in this larger space, hence the need for more closely cooperating with the UAE to that end. “Israel” and Eritrea already have relations with one another, but the UAE is the latter’s dominant partner since it uses its territory for waging the War on Yemen. The self-professed “Jewish State” can now “piggyback” on the its official ally’s military gains there to do the same, just like in South Yemen and Somaliland. Taken together, the military dimensions of the “Israeli”-Emirati alliance perfectly complement the diplomatic and economic (agricultural, electrical hydrologicaltelecommunication) influence that it’s already established to solidify its sway. The only “holdouts” are Sudan, which is already under the UAE’s influence after its military coup, tiny Djibouti, and Somalia, the last of which hosts a Turkish base.

Cultivating UN Support On The Continent

“Israel’s” trans-regional strategy with the UAE, using the Gulf of Aden as its springboard for expanding influence into Africa, is therefore twofold. Firstly, it hopes to “contain” Turkish influence in this part of the world, and secondly, it wants to leverage its predicted gains to recruit more diplomatic allies in the UN. That global body’s resolutions are superficial since they lack any enforcement mechanism, but they’re still an impressive soft power tool for shaping perceptions. Since the UAE is becoming more active in the African hinterland, both on its own independent initiative and to counter Turkish influence there, “Israel” hopes to combine their efforts to turn targeted states away from the Turks and towards the “Israeli”-Emirati alliance instead. Incentives such as loans and investments (in the earlier described spheres) could basically buy off corrupt governments there who have little to lose by siding with those two since it’s extremely unlikely that voting in support of “Israel” at the UN will set off a pro-Palestinian Color Revolution anywhere on the continent.

Concluding Thoughts

Many commentators have already extensively discussed the implications of “Israel” and the UAE’s mutual recognition on Mideast geopolitics, but few other than the author have asked what the future holds for Africa in this respect. The UAE is already the predominant power in the interconnected Horn of Africa-Gulf of Aden region, so it naturally follows that its “Israeli” ally will “piggyback” off of gains there to combine them with its existing accomplishments in the East African hinterland. Together, “Israel” and the UAE might pool their efforts in order to seriously challenge Turkish influence on the continent, which has been spreading over the past decade despite most foreign observers being unaware of this fact except when it comes to North Africa. The overarching trend is that foreign powers — which include “Israel”, the UAE, and Turkey, but also the US, France, India, Russia, and China — are increasingly “scrambling” for Africa in order to improve their grand strategic prospects in the emerging Multipolar World Order, and it’s only a matter of time before they clash.

EgjymzKXcAEZe3b 

American political analyst

Tags: Israel, UAE, Turkey, Africa, Horn of Africa, Yemen, South Yemen, Eritrea, Somalia, Somaliland, East Africa.

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India Lost Its Last Chance To ‘Save Face’ Before China

India Lost Its Last Chance To ‘Save Face’ Before China

9 SEPTEMBER 2020
Modi_Ashamed
 
India could have followed the Chinese Defense Ministry’s suggestion to investigate the first-ever firearm discharge near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in almost half a century, which could have helped New Delhi “save face” before Beijing by de-escalating this extremely dangerous situation that it’s entirely responsible for provoking, but it declined doing so since it’s seemingly more important for Modi to “save face” before his domestic audience even if it leads to a disastrous “war by miscalculation” with China.
 

India Ignored A Priceless Opportunity For Peace

The security situation between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is rapidly deteriorating after the first-ever firearm discharge in almost half a century occurred earlier this week. According to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesman Zhang Shuili, Indian forces aggressively crossed the frontier and then fired “warning shots” at their Chinese counterparts. In response, he “request[ed] the Indian side to immediately stop dangerous actions, immediately withdraw cross-line personnel, strictly restrain front-line troops, and strictly investigate and punish personnel who fired shots to ensure that similar incidents do not occur again.” New Delhi therefore had a priceless opportunity to “save face” before Beijing by de-escalating this extremely dangerous situation that it’s entirely responsible for provoking as part of the Quad’s coordinated efforts to “contain” China.

Modi’s Message

Announcing an investigation and holding the personnel responsible who violated the bilateral agreement not to discharge firearms along the LAC could have jumpstarted the long-overdue peace process between the two, but Modi declined doing so since it’s seemingly more important for him to “save face” before his domestic audience even if it leads to a disastrous “war by miscalculation” with China. It doesn’t matter whether Modi lost control of the Indian military if ultra-jingoist frontline forces took the independent initiative to dramatically escalate the situation by firing their “warning shots” or if they received prior approval to do so by the civilian government that’s supposed to be in control of the military. The indisputable outcome is that the most powerful man in India sent the message that he supports their aggressive actions by the very fact that he didn’t condemn them nor initiate an investigation. This is intended to strengthen national unity and place India on a war footing.

Mistaken Strategic Calculations

Indo-Sino tensions are more serious now than at any point since their brief 1962 war, though Modi’s strategic calculation seems to be that inadvertently stoking speculation about a civilian-military split (whether or not this is truly the case) in the interests of promoting peace with China would be more disadvantageous for the ruling BJP than the possibly uncontrollable conflict that he’s provoking with the People’s Republic. It might even be that he’s convinced that the latter scenario would likely remain a limited and very short war due to both countries’ nuclear capabilities which might act as a deterrent to an all-out campaign against one another. India’s expected loss could even be spun to its benefit by generating immense sympathy for its “brave” role in militarily “containing” China on behalf of its Quad allies, which it could then leverage to attract more investment from them as a “reward”, especially if more of their companies “re-offshore” from China to India in the aftermath.

The “Best-Case” Scenario

The most “optimistic” forecast that can be made in light of India’s refusal to take the “face-saving” olive branch that China suggested earlier this week by investigating the so-called “warning shot” incident is that these two countries’ “decoupling” is carried out as peacefully and in as “manageable” of a manner as possible. The author wrote about this in July in his analysis about “What Can Be Learned From The Indo-Sino Disengagement Decision”, though it should now be added that BRICS and the SCO will almost surely become dysfunctional due to their deep distrust of one another in the aftermath of India’s latest LAC provocation. The “best-case” scenario should therefore be expanded to the multilateral dimension by hoping that Russian interests won’t be as adversely affected by this outcome as they otherwise could be, though a lot will depend on whether Moscow successfully “balances” between Beijing and New Delhi or if it continues to tacitly take the latter’s side.

Concluding Thoughts

Regardless of the two most likely scenarios — the worst-case one of a limited hot war or the “best-case” one of a “manageable decoupling” — the fact that India lost its last chance to “save face” before China puts the two on an irreversibly negative trajectory that will have far-reaching consequences, as the author explained in more detail in his exclusive article for India’s prestigious FORCE magazine over the summer. There’s no going back after Modi made the fateful decision not to investigate this week’s “warning shot” incident like China graciously gave him the opportunity to do in a last-ditch effort to jumpstart the long-overdue peace process between the two. Asian geopolitics will never be the same after this lost opportunity, nor will the geopolitics of the 21st century more broadly. That being the case, all analysts would do well to base their subsequent forecasts on the assumption that the Indo-Sino rivalry will remain in force for the foreseeable future and possibly even intensify.

EgjymzKXcAEZe3b

 
 
American political analyst

Tags: India, China, Modi, BJP, Kashmir.

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Russia’s Cypriot-Turkish ‘Balancing’ Act Is Risky But Respectable

Russia’s Cypriot-Turkish ‘Balancing’ Act Is Risky But Respectable

 
9 SEPTEMBER 2020

Cyprus_Flag_Map_II

Russia’s attempt to “balance” between Cyprus and Turkey is a risky attempt to expand its influence in the Eastern Mediterranean since it could backfire if either of them begins to distrust its motives by suspecting Moscow of more closely siding with one over the other, but it’s also respectable in the sense that the Eurasian Great Power is objectively the best possible country to mediate between these two rival states since it enjoys strategic relations with both.

Russia’s “Balancing” Act

Russia’s 21st-century grand strategy envisions the country functioning as the supreme “balancing” force in Eurasia, and despite the author’s constructive criticisms about its execution, it remains among the most promising foreign policies in the world by virtue of Russia’s advantageous geography and historic diplomatic skills which uniquely enable it to potentially succeed with this ambitious goal. Moscow recently signaled interest in helping Cyprus and Turkey mediate their long-standing dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean provided that both sides request it, but this could backfire if either of them begins to distrust its motives by suspecting that Russia is more closely siding with one over the other. Nevertheless, it’s also respectable in the sense that the Eurasian Great Power is objectively the best possible country to mediate between these two rival states since it enjoys strategic relations with both.

Containing” Turkey

In recent years, however, Russia has visibly moved closer to Turkey while the latter’s historic American ally has shifted towards Greece and Cyprus. The reason for this is that some in Ankara suspected the US of being involved in the failed summer 2016 coup attempt against President Erdogan, after which Turkey actively engaged Russia exactly as the author predicted at the time while the US reacted by bolstering its ties with Turkey’s Hellenic rivals. The second-mentioned development recently took the form of Athens reinvigorating its military alliance with Washington last year and the US partially lifting its arms embargo on Nicosia earlier this month. In addition, tensions have spiked between those two and Turkey over their conflicting claims in the Eastern Mediterranean through which the Greece-”Israel”-Cyprus (GRISCY) pipeline is expected to pass. Cyprus and Greece also managed to successfully multilateralize their disputes with Turkey after jointly hosting maritime drills with France and Italy in the region. Evidently, a regional coalition is forming to “contain” Turkey.

Balancing” Basics

The essence of Russia’s “balancing” act is that it tends to side with what it perceives to be the “weaker” party in order to restore strategic parity so as to avoid a military conflict between the rival sides, but it only engages the aforementioned state if it believes that it has something of tangible significance to gain by doing so (e.g. promises of profitable economic deals, etc.). For instance, Russian military support to Syria wasn’t just to eliminate ISIS terrorists of Russian and Central Asian origin, but also to make itself the indispensable diplomatic force for resolving that country’s conflict which in turn will reshape Mideast geopolitics. It seemed for a few years to have been sympathetic to Iran and Hezbollah’s military roles there too since those two were considered to be weaker than “Israel”, but then started supporting “Israel” a lot more than those other two once it came to believe that they’d become stronger than the self-professed “Jewish State”. This isn’t to argue whether those assessments are all correct, but just to explain Russia’s Mideast “balancing” act.

The Strategic Basis Of Russian-Turkish Ties

The pertinence of this insight to the Cyprus-Turkish dimension of this grand strategy is that the island nation is obviously the weaker of the two if a back-to-back comparison is made but it’s been able to assemble a regional coalition in its support comprising Greece, France, Italy, and presumably also “Israel” and the US if the proverbial push came to shove. This means that Nicosia has more of an edge against Ankara than one might realize, thus leading to the conclusion that Turkey is being “contained” and thus is “comparatively weaker” when viewed from this perspective. This understanding explains why Russia tends to give off the perception of supporting Turkey so much (mostly in the passive sense of not getting in its way in Syria for example) since it believes that aiding Ankara can help restore strategic parity in the region between the Anatolian state and the coalition that’s forming to “contain” it. Nevertheless, some might argue that Russia’s “passive facilitation” of Turkey’s regional policy contributed to the “security dilemma” that sparked that aforesaid coalition’s formation.

Quid Pro Quo

In any case, the question to be asked is why Russia has decided to engage Cyprus at this moment in time and whether it truly believes that its efforts will be not only appreciated, but even rewarded if successful. What Moscow aims to do is expand its influence in the Eastern Mediterranean through diplomatic means via its “balancing” act, hoping that it can become a relevant player in this matrix of interests to the point where it’s able to shape the course of events. More specifically, it hopes to entice Cyprus into lessening its recent dependence on Western security guarantees in the event that it can somehow convince Turkey to support a political “compromise” on unifying the island and thus mitigating the tensions between those two. In exchange, Russia would probably like for its energy companies to play a role in GRISCY (agreed to both by Nicosia and Ankara’s surrogates in the self-described entity of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” following unification). A naval base somewhere on the island, or at least military-logistics rights, would be a plus too.

Success Is Far From Assured

For as ambitious as Russia’s aims are, it’s difficult to imagine Moscow implementing them. It hasn’t proposed any novel solution to Cypriot-Turkish tensions (at least not yet) so neither of them have much interest in requesting its support in any practical sense. Moreover, while mediation by a neutral third party such as Russia can be helpful, it proverbially takes two to tango, hence why both sides must request this and it’s unlikely that they’ll come to such an agreement. Even if they do, mediation might not be needed indefinitely if they come to realize that it’s more effective to simply discuss their issues bilaterally. Another issue is that the Kremlin masterfully practices realpolitik (“balancing”) nowadays to the extent that it doesn’t regard itself as having any historical-cultural commitments to anyone else (e.g. supporting Cyprus just because most of its people are fellow Orthodox Christians). As such, Cyprus might not trust Russia, and Moscow might not want to provoke Ankara’s ire by doing anything to earn Nicosia’s trust which could be perceived as being at Turkey’s expense.

Concluding Thoughts

Russia should be commended for its sincere desire to resolve the dangerous tensions between its Cypriot and Turkish strategic partners, but one shouldn’t get any false hopes about the likelihood of it succeeding. It’s enough to signal its positive intent for this gesture to have its intended soft power effect, but actually executing it in the unlikely event that both sides request its mediation might be more troublesome than many might think. Moscow would have to tread extremely carefully to avoid triggering a “security dilemma” with Ankara wherein its counterpart comes to regard Russia as contributing to its “containment” if Turkey begins to think that it’s taking Cyprus’ side. Unlike Cyprus which can’t really impose any meaningful costs upon Russia, Turkey could limit military coordination in Syria, create issues of a speculative nature with Turkish Stream, and potentially impose non-tariff barriers to commercial relations. With this in mind, some in Moscow might cynically hope that Cyprus and Turkey don’t take up Russia’s (mostly rhetorical?) mediation offer.

EgjymzKXcAEZe3b

 
 
American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Israel, GRISCY, Energy Geopolitics, Balancing, Eastern Mediterranean.

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Is The Quad Plotting To Provoke A Proxy War With China In The Solomon Islands?

Is The Quad Plotting To Provoke A Proxy War With China In The Solomon Islands?

4 SEPTEMBER 2020Solomon_Islands

The leader of the Solomon Islands province of Malaita announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’s recognition of Beijing last year as the legitimate government of China, which could dangerously plunge this underdeveloped nation back into a state of civil conflict that could then be exploited by the Quad as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.

From The Global Periphery To The Center Of Attention

The South Pacific, long regarded as a far-flung region that’s largely irrelevant to all major countries apart from nearby Australia, has increasingly figured more prominent in global media reports over the past few years as the West has sought to portray this part of the world as the latest theater in the West’s New Cold War with China. The narrative goes that China’s recent inroads through its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and some regional states’ decisions to recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China has given the People’s Republic the opportunity to expand its influence there, which is being portrayed in a zero-sum manner as supposedly being a threat to Western interests. Political tensions have been building over the past year as more pressure was put upon these countries by their traditional Western partners to either reverse their relations with Beijing or at the very least “balance” them out by re-engaging with the Australia and/or the US, two of the four countries that comprise the so-called “Quad” alongside India and Japan which are collectively accused of seeking to “contain” China. Although concerning, this tense state of affairs had yet to destabilize the region, but that might soon change after the latest news coming from the Solomon Islands.

On The Precipice Of Civil War

The leader of the Malaita Province — the most populous one in the country that’s home to approximately a quarter of the Solomon Islands’ less than 700,000 people — announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’s recognition of Beijing last year. This is especially troublesome because the Solomon Islands’ de-facto state of civil war that lasted between 1999-2003 and prompted a nearly 15-year-long Australian-led peacekeeping intervention directly concerned an ethno-regional dispute between Malaita and the neighboring island of Guadalcanal which hosts the country’s capital. The Capital Territory and Guadalcanal Province collectively have more people than Malaita does, which means that any possible exacerbation of their former conflict with one another over the China-Taiwan issue could immediately plunge approximately half of the Solomon Islands back into civil conflict. That, however, might be exactly what the Quad is hoping for since it could then easily exploit this unrest as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.

The Quad’s Hybrid War On The Solomon Islands

What’s important to point out is that the China-Taiwan issue is simply a trigger for thawing this unresolved conflict between the two islands and their people, one which predates the Quad’s formation by over a decade but could potentially be encouraged by them for the aforementioned reason. It’s extremely unlikely that the leader of Malaita Province would make such a dramatic announcement had he not already secured support from this bloc’s American and Australian members, both of whom have an interest in pushing back against what they’ve portrayed as the “aggressive” expansion of Chinese influence in the region that they’ve historically regarded as falling within their joint “sphere of influence”. The external exacerbation of preexisting identity conflicts for geostrategic reasons — especially those related to disrupting, controlling, or influencing transnational connective infrastructure projects such as BRI — fits the author’s definition of Hybrid War. That means that this scheme can rightly be described as the Quad’s Hybrid War on the Solomon Islands, which could become the catalyst of geostrategic change all across the New Cold War’s South Pacific theater if the “Balkanization” process that’s being unleashed in that country uncontrollably spreads throughout the region.

Formalizing The “Asian NATO”

Any resumption of civil war-like unrest in the Solomon Islands as a result of Malaita’s attempted secession will almost certainly prompt another international peacekeeping mission there, one which might be led not just by Australia like last time, but jointly by it and its other three Quad partners. After all, US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun declared his country’s intention earlier this week to create a NATO-like military bloc in the so-called “Indo-Pacific” in order to “push back against China in virtually every domain” there. He strongly hinted that the Quad could play such a role, and another conflict in the Solomon Islands might be just what’s needed in order to provide the impetus for formalizing this structure to that point. The previous Australian-led peacekeeping mission wasn’t all that difficult compared to others across the world so a forthcoming one possibly led by the Quad’s four members could serve as the perfect opportunity for strengthening their military interoperability with one another in a real-world mission instead of just another exercise. It wouldn’t entail as much of a cost as doing so elsewhere in this transoceanic region should another Hybrid War be manufactured for that purpose, and the benefits to their bloc could be tremendous in terms of their grand strategic impact.

Perception Management”

Special attention should be paid to how this scenario is already being sold to the public. Reuters quoted Malaita’s leader as evoking the UN principle of self-determination, which in this context could easily be spun in a way to sympathetically present him and his people as “freedom-loving democrats” opposed to the “Chinese-controlled tyrannical central government”. Considering how preconditioned many people across the world are to suspect China of ulterior motives through BRI, it wouldn’t be surprising if they fall for this emerging narrative. To make it more believable, unverified claims could be made about alleged human rights abuses carried out by the central government with Chinese support. Reports could also be spread fearmongering about the environmental consequences of any potential BRI projects on the island. Since the nearby Papua New Guinean Autonomous Region of Bougainville just held a non-binding UN-recognized independence referendum that overwhelmingly passed last year, the legal precedent has been established for arguing that Malaita deserves the same opportunity to choose its own destiny as the only lasting solution to the Solomon Islands’ similar ethno-regional conflict.

Proxy War Scenarios

It’s impossible to predict in detail exactly how a Quad-China proxy war in the Solomon Islands could play out, but the initial conditions are such that one can nonetheless identify the broad contours of this conflict. Violence would probably be concentrated mostly in Malaita and among migrant communities on Guadalcanal, which would thus make them the two most likely places for a Quad-led peacekeeping force to deploy. If the central government successfully secures the capital region and its surroundings, then the peacekeeping mission might only concern Malaita and thus set it along the trajectory of seemingly inevitable independence pending a UN-recognized referendum there overseen by the Quad. If the authorities lose control of parts of Guadalcanal, however, then a regime change is certainly possible with or without a Quad-led military intervention there, one which could still result in Malaita’s eventual independence but also the reversal of the country’s recognition of Beijing back to Taipei. In the course of events, China might be compelled to evacuate some of its citizens if they’re targeted by the separatists, who might also attack them systematically in order to prompt China into deepening its political, financial, and perhaps even military support of the authorities through “mission creep”.

Concluding Thoughts

The news that the leader of a South Pacific island nation’s province announced his separatist intentions might have seemed so irrelevant to the rest of the world at first glance as to not warrant any serious attention, but the fact of the matter is that this event is actually extremely important because it’s poised to turn the South Pacific into the latest hot spot of the New Cold War. The author predicted three years ago in September 2017 that “it’s impossible to speculate on exactly what could set off a renewed round of violence in the [Solomon Islands], but the most probable scenarios have to do with a continuation conflict between the people of Guadalcanal island and neighboring Malaita, which was at the core of the ‘The Tensions’ in the first place.” That’s exactly what seems slated to happen after the leader of Malaita used the central government’s recognition of Beijing as the pretext for thawing this unresolved conflict, all with the very likely support of the Quad for the purpose of “containing” China in the region through “Balkanization”, which in turn could serve as the regional security impetus for formalizing the bloc into an “Asian NATO”. The calm waters of the South Pacific might therefore soon give way to a tempest of Hybrid War trouble with global strategic implications.

EgjymzKXcAEZe3b

 
 
American political analyst

Tags:Quad, Solomon Islands, China, BRI, Australia, US, Regime Change, Hybrid War, Taiwan, Separatism.

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Is Russia Backtracking On BRI?

Is Russia Backtracking On BRI?

31 AUGUST 2020ELB_III
The critical assessment of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) last month by the influential Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies coupled with India’s eagerness all summer to court the Eurasian Great Power into joining its so-called “Indo-Pacific” projects have combined to create the impression that Russia might be backtracking on President Putin’s previously expressed intention last year to integrate his country’s Greater Eurasian Partnership with the New Silk Road.

Debunking The Dogma

The Alt-Media Community’s disparate members are united by their dogmatic belief that Russia and China are working closely with one another on all levels in order to advance their shared grand strategic interest of accelerating the emergence of the Multipolar World Order. This naturally presupposes that they’re continuing to make progress on President Putin’s previously expressed intention last year to integrate his country’s Greater Eurasian Partnership with the New Silk Road, but recent developments are creating the impression that Russia might actually be backtracking on China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). These are the critical assessment of BRI last month by the influential Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies and India’s eagerness all summer to court the Eurasian Great Power into joining its so-called “Indo-Pacific” projects. Upon analyzing the aforementioned more closely, it becomes clear that there’s some credence to that provocative claim which debunks the dogmatic belief of the Alt-Media Community.

Russia’s Critical Assessment Of BRI

About the first of these two developments, Alexey Maslovs Russian-language interview to Interfax should be Google Translated and read in full by anyone interested in learning more about Russia’s evolving views towards BRI. He was surprisingly candid for a Russian expert of his caliber in discussing the challenges inherent to this global series of megaprojects, as well as China’s grand strategic motivation in pursuing them in the first place. Maslov also implied some criticisms of it when sharing his assessment that China basically wants to take control of the global economy through these means, which also includes the use of so-called “debt traps”. Even more interestingly, he claimed that Russia isn’t a part of BRI contrary to conventional belief, but nevertheless seeks to pragmatically cooperate with it. Maslov then elaborated on why this is so, focusing on the problems related to their bilateral trade and investment relations. Altogether, his interview is extremely insightful and should be taken seriously due to the influence that he wields over Russian policy by view of his esteemed position.

The “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor”

The second development is less surprising since it’s been tracked for a while now, and that’s India’s eagerness to court Russia into joining its so-called “Indo-Pacific” projects. What was unexpected, however, was the spree of proposals that were made all summer. The first move came during the joint online conference between the Russian International Affairs Council and the Indian Council of World Affairs in mid-July. The Indian Ambassador to Russia encouraged his host country to work more closely with his homeland in this trans-oceanic sphere, provocatively drawing particular attention to safeguarding “international rules and law” in the South China Sea where both have invested in Vietnamese offshore energy deposits contested by China. A suggestion was also made to undertake joint projects in Asia and Africa, which hints at Russia joining the Indo-Japanese “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” (AAGC) like the author previously proposed. ThePrint.In reported in late July that the Indian Ambassador reiterated such cooperation proposals to Russian officials during that time.

India’s Military & Diplomatic Outreaches To Russia

India’s envisioned “Indo-Pacific” partnership with Russia isn’t just economic, but also carries with it very important military and diplomatic dimensions. The Economic Times reported in late July that the two countries might sign a LEMOA-like military logistics pact by the end of the year, the possible implications of which the author analyzed in December 2018 in his piece about how A Russian-Indian LEMOA Could Lead To Logistics Pacts With Other Littoral States. The other related development was Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla officially discussing “the proposal for a Russia-India-Japan trilateral mechanism with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Igor Morgulov, on August 4.” While the official purpose of such a structure would likely be presented as advancing Russia’s possible participation in the AAGC, there’s no doubt that it would be perceived in practice as a “passively aggressive” move by China considering the context of its ongoing rivalry with those two Asian Great Powers.

World War C & The “New Detente”

The reason why all of this is happening so fast is likely due to World War C, the author’s neologism for the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes unleashed across the world as a result of the international community’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19. One of the most immediate consequences was that Russia and China began to look askance at one another, which the author elaborated upon in his analysis earlier this year titled Rare Wrinkle Or Growing Rift?: Russia & China Exchange Criticisms Over World War C. In connection with this, Russia also sought to make progress on its “New Detente” with the US (the author’s neologism for ultimately reaching a series of “compromises” on a wide range of international issues) through its counter-COVID aid to America and their joint efforts to revive OPEC+. Taken together, these two pressing influences might have contributed to Russia’s changed attitude towards BRI, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing or anything to be seriously concerned about so long as Moscow manages to keep up its 21st-century “balancing” act.

Russia’s “Balancing” Act Between China & India

The author has written extensively about Russia’s “balancing” act between China and India, but warned back in November in response to Russia’s perceived “tilt” at the time towards the latter that Improved Russian-Indian Ties Must Be Balanced With Improved Russian-Chinese Ones. Failure to do so would risk sparking a “strategic dilemma” with China, one which would be to both it and Russia’s detriment while definitely being to the decisive advantage of India and its new American patron. One unique proposal that the author made in a jointly authored academic article in May for the official journal of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) concerns The Prospects Of Russia And India Leading A New Non-Aligned Movement, though the subsequent Galwan Incident makes it unlikely that Moscow will make any tangible progress on this front for the foreseeable future out of fear of triggering the aforesaid “strategic dilemma”. In fact, it can be argued that agreeing to any of India’s recent proposals without committing to symmetrical Chinese ones would lead to the same outcome.

Breaking The “Balancing” Act?

Therein lies the challenge at the core of Russia’s grand strategy since it’s a lot easier to talk about “balancing” than actually doing it, let alone well enough to the point where neither party suspects the “balancing” state of ulterior motives. In the current context, if Russia joined the AAGC, agreed to a LEMOA-like pact with India, and/or participated in a trilateral mechanism alongside Japan, it might give rise to Chinese suspicions about Moscow’s true long-term intentions towards the People’s Republic. Under such circumstances, China would have no reason pay much attention to its prior plans of building the Eurasian Land Bridge through Russia en route to the EU since it already has several complementary corridors that it can rely on instead such as the “Polar Silk Road”, the Middle Corridor, and BRI’s flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its related branch routes that the author describes as CPEC+. That in turn could undermine Russia’s ongoing systemic economic transition away from energy exports and towards becoming an East-West bridge for trade.

The Strategic Importance Of Clear Communication

It’s difficult at this moment to predict whether Russia will agree to all of India’s proposals, and if it does, whether it would also commit to any symmetrical Chinese ones to “balance” them out. The latter could prospectively see it loudly reaffirming its involvement in BRI by also making progress on the Meridian Highway segment of the Eurasian Land Bridge, reaching a LEMOA-like agreement with China, and pioneering a G2 mechanism for coordinating their policies all across Eurasia. Regardless of what Russia ends up doing, it mustn’t forget the strategic importance of clear communication in expressing its intentions towards China and India. Some of the constructive criticisms that the author recently made about Russian strategy is that the country never articulated its “balancing” act and oftentimes takes its partners for granted, which is why it must proudly embrace “balancing” by explicitly making it the basis for its dealings with China and India as well as being open to “compromising” with each of them as regards their concerns about its ties with the other.

The Pakistani Solution

In his debut analysis for the Valdai Club about How Russia Can Lead Eurasia’s Consolidated Response To The Economic Crisis, the author proposed that the creation of a Russian-Pakistani trade corridor (“RuPak”) could help Moscow better manage its tricky “balancing” act with China and India. RuPak’s importance in this respect was explained at length in the author’s joint academic article about Pakistan’s Role In Russia’s Greater Eurasian Partnership that was published at the Russian International Affairs Council in June, which built upon his work the month prior about how Improved Russian-Pakistani Relations Will Help Moscow Balance The New Bipolaritybetween the US and China on the global level but also between China and India as regards their overlapping “spheres of influence” in Asia. As Russia begins to visibly backtrack on BRI due to World War C and the “New Detente” in parallel with seriously considering India’s economic, military, and diplomatic outreaches, it’s absolutely imperative that it retains its hard-earned goodwill with China, which it can do through RuPak.

Concluding Thoughts

After closely analyzing the drivers behind Russia’s newfound critical stance towards BRI as expressed by the influential director of the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies and its interest in possibly agreeing to India’s comprehensive outreaches over the summer, it begins to seem like Moscow isn’t backtracking on BRI as much as it’s clarifying the true relationship that it’s had all this time to this global series of megaprojects. President Putin’s “wishful thinking” for the future notwithstanding, it appears as though Russia’s involvement in China’s worldwide initiative wasn’t ever as extensive as the Alt-Media Community portrayed it as, which might understandably disappoint those countries’ supporters. Nevertheless, it’s important that everything is becoming much clearer nowadays since this recently revealed insight can assist analysts in better forecasting the course of their relations, as well as the next thrust of Russian foreign policy, which might potentially be towards Pakistan via RuPak in order to maintain Moscow’s tricky “balancing” act.

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American political analyst