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Can Russia’s S-400 Sale To India Trigger The Quad’s Collapse?

26 MARCH 2021

Can Russia

The US-led anti-Chinese Quad alliance of itself, Australia, India, and Japan might be on the brink of collapse according to influential BJP ideologue Subramanian Swamy, who warned that Washington might expel New Delhi from this bloc if it goes through with its planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense systems.

One of the most geopolitically consequential blocs of the 21st century is unquestionably the Quad, a US-led anti-Chinese alliance that also includes Australia, India, and Japan. It presents one of the greatest strategic challenges to the emerging Multipolar World Order because of the potential that it has to offset China’s historic rise and therefore the new model of International Relations that it’s bringing to the forefront of global affairs. Many analysts have wondered what could possibly be done to stop the Quad, but most of them have since thrown up their hands in despair and seemingly accepted it as a fait accompli that they’re powerless to prevent. That strategic fatalism might have been a bit too premature, however, after influential BJP ideologue Subramanian Swamy’s public warning on Twitter on Thursday.

Russian publicly financed international media outlet Sputnik reported on his tweet, which read that “I notice none of my facts on Twitter have been proved wrong: 1. China has crossed LAC and occupied our territory. 2. Govt says disengagement has led to PLA withdrawal from Indian side of LAC is false 3. India buying S400 from Russia will lead to US expelling India from QUAD.” The reader should also be reminded that Swamy published a hateful anti-Russian article last October that elicited a very strong condemnation from the Russian Embassy in India at the time. India has the right to conduct its foreign affairs however it so chooses in line with what it describes as its “multi-alignment” strategy, but there should be little question in light of his recent statements that Swamy is seemingly pro-American with his outlook and at the very least unfriendly towards Russia.

This influential figure’s statements are at variance with what the Russian and Indian governments officially regard as their special and privileged strategic partnership that’s recently been experiencing a renaissance over the past few years, especially after Prime Minister Modi attended the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September 2019 as President Putin’s guest of honor. Despite some bumps in the road in the year and a half since, ties are back on the positive track following Foreign Secretary Shringla’s visit to Moscow last month. Quite clearly, Russian-Indian relations remain strong, which provides a much-needed element of certainty in the midst of what can be described as World War C, or the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes catalyzed by the international community’s uncoordinated attempt to contain COVID-19.

The US’ repeated threats to sanction India for its planned S-400 purchase from Russia run the risk of complicating American-Indian relations, particularly when it comes to their hitherto close military cooperation in attempting to “contain” China through the Quad. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Modi remains determined to go through with the deal, which speaks of how highly he regards Russia’s role in India’s “multi-alignment” “balancing” act no matter how imperfectly he’s thus far executed it. Swamy’s warning can therefore be interpreted as pressure upon the premier from within his own government, which shows that some influential forces don’t agree with Prime Minister Modi’s strategic direction. They’d do well to reconsider their views though since it’s arguably in all of Eurasia’s interests that India concludes the S-400 deal with Russia.

Swamy might actually be right for once, though much to the detriment of the American-aligned grand strategic vision that he seemingly sympathizes with. The US might not literally expel India from the Quad if it receives Russia’s S-400 air defense systems, but their anti-Chinese military coordination would certainly be adversely affected, especially if America imposes sanctions like it’s repeatedly threatened to do. That, however, would by default strengthen India’s ties with Russia and China, thus providing a much-needed impetus for reviving their trilateral cooperation through through RIC and thereby strengthening both BRICS and the SCO as well. This could in turn accelerate the rise of the Eurasian Century, especially as it was recently articulated by Pakistani officials during last week’s inaugural Islamabad Security Dialogue.

In connection with that, it also deserve mention that ties between India and Pakistan are gradually thawing as a result of recent developments between the two, particularly last month’s surprise ceasefire that continues to hold at the time of this analysis’ publication and earlier reports that the UAE is secretly trying to broker a more comprehensive solution to the UNSC-recognized disputed territory of Kashmir. The resultant reduction of American influence in India in the aftermath of Washington likely going through with its sanctions threats against New Delhi could potentially remove the greatest threat to peace in the region since the US wouldn’t be as powerful as before to divide and rule South Asia by exploiting this unresolved conflict.

In other words, India’s purchase of Russia’s S-400s would be in both of those countries’ interests as well as China’s and Pakistan’s when one considers the larger Eurasian strategic picture. The Quad probably won’t collapse, nor is it to be expected that the US would expel India from this alliance, but the group’s anti-Chinese military capabilities might take a strong hit as New Delhi would be less prone to closely cooperate with Washington in this respect if it becomes victimized by American sanctions for its sovereign decision to go through with its Russian air defense deal. With these interconnected dynamics in mind, observers can therefore rightly describe the S-400 deal as potentially being a grand strategic game-changer provided that India retains the political will to go through with it despite Swamy’s and other influential forces’ efforts to stop it.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, India, US, Sanctions, S-400s, Quad, China, Pakistan, Eurasian Century, Balancing.


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The First-Ever Quad Leadership Summit Confirmed The Bloc’s Anti-Chinese Purpose

15 MARCH 2021

The First-Ever Quad Leadership Summit Confirmed The Bloc

The bloc thought that it could dispel suspicions of its motives by emphasizing that it came together for humanitarian reasons almost two decades ago but that narrative is nothing more than an attempt to deceive the rest of the world.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, popularly known as the Quad, held its first-ever leadership summit on Friday via virtual means. The leaders of the US, Australia, India, and Japan discussed a slew of issues that concern their mutual interests in the broad space that they describe as the Indo-Pacific. The bloc has long been suspected of tacitly harboring anti-Chinese intentions, but its leaders attempted to clarity that this isn’t the entirety of its purpose in their joint statement that was released after their video conference. In fact, they didn’t even directly address China at all, though they did imply that it was discussed during their meeting.

The only indirect reference to China was the joint statement’s claims that its members “will continue to prioritize the role of international law in the maritime domain, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and facilitate collaboration, including in maritime security, to meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas.” Nevertheless, this is still very significant since it directly affects China’s national security interests in those two bodies of water considering its territorial claims there that are contested by several other countries.

The Quad’s joint statement also pointed out that this bloc was supposedly created after the 2004 tsunami, though without mentioning the growing consensus in their countries over the past few years that it’s actually a platform for attempting to contain China. Their talk about shared interests in the spheres of trade, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, cybersecurity, COVID-19, investment, and other such topics actually seem to be a smokescreen for strengthening coordination between them on these fronts in order to more rigorously compete with China.

Of particular concern is the Quad’s references to a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, “democratic values”, and “territorial integrity”, which can be understood by the larger strategic context as being directed against China. That’s because those countries have repeatedly accused China of allegedly undermining all three of those interests around which the Quad is converging. At face value, the bloc’s claims of ASEAN’s centrality seem innocuous enough but take on a more sinister meaning if one suspects the Quad of trying to court those countries for the purpose of containing China in the South China Sea.

With this in mind, the Quad’s first-ever leadership summit did indeed clarify the bloc’s purpose through its indirect strategic references to containing China, which are patently obvious to those observers that are capable of reading between the lines in the current strategic context. The bloc thought that it could dispel suspicions of its motives by emphasizing that it came together for humanitarian reasons almost two decades ago but that narrative is nothing more than an attempt to deceive the rest of the world. The Quad has always had tacit anti-Chinese intentions, though these don’t need to remain its raison d’etat.

For example, instead of excluding China and aiming to contain it, the Quad could incorporate the People’s Republic into this transregional platform through non-military outreaches focused on trade, investment, infrastructure, COVID-19, climate change, and disaster relief. It’s impossible to contain China, let alone in its home region, which is why the Quad should focus on cooperating with it. The overarching purpose of such outreaches could be to lay the basis for expanding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which Quad-members Australia and Japan are already part of with China to include the US and India with time.

The Indo-Pacific isn’t “free and open” when China is excluded from the Quad’s emerging transregional integration platform, nor are “democratic values” embraced by refusing to cooperate with it. To the contrary, the Quad is attempting to make the Indo-Pacific increasingly captive and closed in an anti-democratic way which threatens China’s territorial integrity in the East and South China Seas. It’s for this reason why the Quad must radically reconsider its raison d’etat by moving away from its doomed-to-fail attempts to contain China and towards actively cooperating with it instead.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: US, India, Japan, Australia, Quad, China, RCEP.


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ASIA PACIFIC

QUAD:

  • The so-called “Quad” -United States, India, Australia and Japan- agreed to pool financing, manufacturing and distribution capacity to send coronavirus vaccines across Asia. India will use its manufacturing capacity to make U.S. vaccines, with financing coming from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. They want to counter China’s growing vaccination diplomacy in Southeast Asia and around the world. India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker.

SOURCE: REUTERS


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ASIA PACIFIC:

QUAD:

  • The United States, Japan, India and Australia will work together to secure rare earth metals that are essential to the production of electric car motors and other products. The four-nation group, referred to as the “Quad” countries, are due to hold an online summit meeting seen as part of efforts to counterbalance China’s growing economic (and military) power.

SOURCE: REUTERS


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QUAD:

  • US President Joe Biden will hold the first-ever joint talks with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan as part of an emerging four-way alliance seen as fundamental to efforts to balance China’s growing military and economic power. The goal is basically to introduce the Quad as a new feature of regular diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific.”

SOURCE: AL ALJAZEERA


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  • India has urged the United States, Japan and Australia to invest in its vaccine production capacity, as the so-called Quad alliance tries to counter China’s growing vaccine diplomacy. Beijing has committed to provide at least 463 million doses of its home-made COVID-19 vaccines through exports and donations across the world from Asia to Africa, Europe and Latin America.

SOURCE: REUTERS


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INDO-PACIFIC REGION:

  • United States President Joe Biden is looking forward to engage with leaders of Australia, India, and Japan in the Indo-Pacific region as soon as possible. The four countries had come together in 2017 to shape the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quad” or the Quadrilateral coalition to counter China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.

SOURCE: OUTLOOK INDIA


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  • US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to strengthen Indo-Pacific security through the Quad grouping of countries that is seen as a way to push back against China’s growing assertiveness in the region. Japan’s Sankei newspaper reported over the weekend that the leaders of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia (members of the Quad) plan to hold a summit, in a further tightening of ties between the four.

SOURCE: SIDNEY MORNING HERALD


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The Strategic Consequences Of Myanmar’s State Of Emergency: The Quad vs. China & Russia?

The Strategic Consequences Of Myanmar’s State Of Emergency: The Quad vs. China & Russia?

1 FEBRUARY 2021

The Strategic Consequences Of Myanmar

The Tatmadaw’s decision to impose a year-long state of emergency in response to the formerly ruling National League for Democracy’s refusal to seriously investigate the military’s accusations of fraud stemming from last November’s contested elections will temporarily revert Myanmar back to its prior regional pariah status, one which will be exposed to multidimensional pressure from the US-backed Quad while China and Russia seek to stabilize the country in support of its political transition towards new elections in twelve months’ time.

Executive Summary

Myanmar entered into a year-long state of emergency after the Tatmadaw detained leaders of the formerly ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) following their refusal to seriously investigate the military’s accusations of fraud stemming from last November’s contested elections. Popularly described as a “coup” by the international media despite technically being in legal alignment with Article 417 of the 2008 Constitution, it’s already drawn widespread condemnation from the US and its allies, including those in the Quad such as neighboring India. This sets the stage for temporarily reverting Myanmar back to its prior regional pariah status, during which time it’s expected that the Southeast Asian state will come to depend more heavily on China and Russia. Those two Great Powers will seek to stabilize the country in support of its political transition towards new elections in twelve months’ time while the former coalition of American-backed states will attempt to undermine it.


Political Context

Myanmar began its political transition towards a national model of Western-inspired democracy a decade ago when it began implementing reforms in 2011. Western democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD won elections in 2015, after which she was made “State Counsellor” as a workaround to entering some sort of office since the Constitution barred her from holding a seat due to members of her immediate family holding dual citizenship. Contrary to expectations, she generally continued the military-led government’s strategic partnerships with China and Russia while nevertheless expanding ties with new partners such as the US, India, and others. She also supported the Tatmadaw’s security operation in the restive northwestern Rakhine State against the self-professed “Rohingya” Muslim minority. Even so, the military never truly trusted her and accused the NLD of rigging November’s elections despite the Election Commission rejecting this claim as recently as late last week.

Military Context

All the while, Myanmar continued to experience what’s regarded as the world’s longest-running civil war which has been in effect on and off with varying intensity since shortly after the end of World War II. In short, many of the country’s peripheral minorities (especially those in natural resource-rich areas) are at odds with the ethnic majority Bamar’s centralizing tendencies. This led to various stages of Old Cold War proxy struggles being fought on its territory. Suu Kyi attempted to revive the spirit of the former Panglong Conference first pioneered by her father which federalized the then-Burma, but this provoked even more suspicions from the military since some feared that she was planning to institutionalize the de facto internal partition of the country despite them having previously agreed to peace talks with the country’s many rebels. That could in turn transform Myanmar into a checkerboard of proxy statelets to be divided and ruled in the New Cold War.

Strategic Context

It deserves premier mention that Myanmar serves an ultra-significant role in China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) by virtue of hosting the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), an ASEAN analogue of BRI’s flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which also crucially enables the People’s Republic to connect to the Afro-Asian (“Indian”) Ocean without having to pass through the tense South China Sea and Strait of Malacca. Over time, CMEC and CPEC could greatly enhance China’s connectivity with its fellow Global South partners in Africa, thus enabling the People’s Republic to more tangibly actualize former Chairman Mao’s “Third World Theory” of prioritizing South-South cooperation through its current international development policy. The externally provoked exacerbation of Myanmar’s preexisting identity fault lines (Hybrid War) during its ongoing state of emergency could therefore deal an enormous setback to China’s grand strategy in the worst-case scenario.


Political Risks

The NLD has already called on its supporters to protest throughout the country against the “coup”, which could lead to Color Revolution unrest if it’s not promptly brought under control by the Tatmadaw. Given their history of effectively implementing “Democratic Security” (counter-Hybrid War, including -Color Revolution, tactics and strategies), there’s little doubt that the military will succeed in this respect, but this might in turn prompt the US, the Quad (including India), and their allies into imposing sanctions (whether personal, sectoral, etc.) in response. They might also provide an uncertain degree of political support to the protesters, which could dangerously evolve into military aid to certain rebel groups, including “Rohingya” insurgents who are regarded by the Tatmadaw as terrorists. Depending on the phased transition of this indirect adaptive approach to regime change, a new Hybrid War might break out in Myanmar.

Military Risks

I explored the most likely Hybrid War scenarios for Myanmar in a highly detailed four-part analytical series in fall 2016 (I, IIIIIIV) that should at least be skimmed by those who are interested in learning more about the complex dynamics of the world’s longest-running civil war. Basically, the “Rohingya”-inhabited areas of Rakhine State just north of CMEC’s terminal port of Kyaukpyu, the long-restive Kachin State bordering both China and India, and the battle-hardened Shan State abutting China and Thailand might end up as the scenes that see the most action. The worst-case scenario would be if India became the US’ “Lead From Behind” vanguard state for waging the Quad’s Hybrid War on Myanmar, which might dangerously draw it and China into a proxy struggle as Beijing would likely double down on its backing of Naypyidaw. Despite publicly declaring its support for “democracy” in Myanmar, India doesn’t seem to have any interest in this role, though it can’t be fully ruled out. Even in the absence of that worst-case scenario, a new Hybrid War on Myanmar could still be pretty intense.

Strategic Risks

Myanmar’s reversion back to its prior pariah state status would risk repeating the scenario of disproportionate “dependence” on China that ultimately led to the Tatmadaw’s desire to restore “balance” to this relationship by “diversifying” its range of partnerships through its brief experiment with “democracy”. In other words, Myanmar might be entering the second iteration of this cycle which could be destined to ultimately conclude in the same way, even if the process accelerates and is compressed within the timeframe of just one year as officially expected or perhaps a couple if the next elections are delayed for unforeseen reasons instead of two decades. The point being made is that Myanmar’s expected near-immediate return to its prior “dependence” on China could eventually be exploited once more for anti-Chinese aims depending on the outcome of the next elections even though the NLD had hitherto been unexpectedly pragmatic towards the People’s Republic.


Political Solutions

Every solution to Myanmar’s most immediate problems rests with China, but it would be wise if Naypyidaw and Beijing expanded their predictably strengthened bilateral cooperation into a trilateral format involving Moscow. The Eurasian Great Power has plenty of experience dealing with cutting-edge “Democratic Security” threats, both within its own borders and also those of its BelarusianCentral African RepublicKyrgyz, and Syrian allies. This makes its contribution to politically stabilizing Myanmar invaluable and of immense use to its Southeast Asian partner and China, who could collectively learn more about the most effective ways for thwarting Hybrid War threats through their trilateral cooperation. Just as importantly, Russia also has the political will to scale up its support to Myanmar, which no other Great Power of significance other than China has. This makes them perfect partners and could greatly advance the Asian dimension of Russia’s “balancing” act.

Military Solutions

Myanmar will require reliable support from its premier Chinese and Russian military partners, hence one of the reasons why it was suggested above for Moscow to expand its cooperation with Naypyidaw into the political dimension as well. Both Great Powers are Myanmar’s long-standing arms partners, but Moscow has recently re-engaged Naypyidaw in order to take their military ties to a qualitatively new level. Defense Minister Shoigu was just there last month, during which time they “agreed that Russia will supply Myanmar with Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems, Orlan-10E surveillance drones, and radar equipment.” Such supplies will prove crucial in securing Myanmar’s defensive capabilities in the future even though they’re not expected to be delivered right away of course. This speaks to the long-term vision that both countries have, which complements China’s own there while also helping Myanmar “diversify” from its erstwhile “dependence” on Beijing in a “friendly” way.

Strategic Solutions

Keeping with proposed trend of Russia comprehensively improving its presence in Myanmar during the country’s ongoing state of emergency, it follows that Moscow should be invited to invest in part of CMEC or other related connectivity ventures within this geostategically positioned state. Doing so could easily make Russia a key stakeholder in one of Asia’s fastest growing and most promising economies despite the significant risks involved related to its stability. Russia’s “Democratic Security” assistance, true to the pattern that was pioneered in Syria and more recently in the Central African Republic, could result in tacit quid pro quos whereby Moscow obtains valuable stakes in strategic projects in exchange for helping to defend its partner from Hybrid War threats. If successful, then Russia could diversify from its present regional strategic dependence on India and Vietnam in the South-Southeast Asian space along the South Eurasian Rimland.


Concluding Thoughts

Myanmar is poised to experience another round of intense international pressure after Monday’s imposition of its year-long state of emergency, though unlike during the 1990s and 2000s, the country is better positioned to deal with this because of its much stronger and balanced strategic partnerships with China and Russia. Moscow in particular is expected to play a larger role in supporting Naypyidaw than before, both because of its restored status as a Great Power and also due to its partner’s desire to lessen its “dependence” on Beijing in a “friendly” way during this sensitive time. It’ll of course remain to be seen whether the Quad-led pressure campaign will evolve into a sustained Hybrid War or not, but that scenario doesn’t seem too likely at the moment since India doesn’t appear to have the appetite for leading it on the US’ behalf, at least not at the moment. That being the case, Myanmar probably won’t be destabilized all that much and will likely survive this pressure campaign.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Myanmar, Tatmadaw, Suu Kyi, Regime Change, Color Revolution, Hybrid War, US, India, Russia, China, Quad, Democratic Security.


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ASIA PACIFIC:

QUAD:

  • The UK is planning joining the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) created to counter China. It may be discussed during Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s planned visit to India.

SOURCE: SPUTNIK


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