India Still Plays It Neutral
Despite Warming Ties With US India Plays The Field

India endorsed a communique that should please Moscow and a foreign ministers' meeting in Moscow.

Amiel Ungar,

Yang, Lavrov and Krishna
Yang, Lavrov and Krishna

One important part of the American strategic equation for balancing China in the Pacific region has been India.

India was projected to draw closer to the United States as a result of Chinese support for Pakistan, China's claims to the entire South China Sea as territorial waters, as well as its naval build up in the Indian Ocean.

However, if we are to judge by the recently concluded summit of the RIC states (Russia, India and China), India is not going to burn bridges with China, particularly as India has just marked 65 years of diplomatic relations with Russia (including the Soviet period). Russia and China are still thick due to their common front against American positions.

If one reads the text of the Moscow summit communique, the Russians and Chinese can take satisfaction from the Indian position.

The one concession that China appeared to make was to agree to discuss disputes on a multilateral basis, backing away from its traditional position on the maritime dispute that favored bilateral discussions with every country with which China was embroiled.

Multilaterism is the antithesis of unipolarism, seen as a code word for the American assumption that the United States can act unilaterally and even outside the United Nations where Russia and China have veto power.

The three countries betrayed their concern about the imminent NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. The international community had to remain engaged in Afghanistan "to obviate the risk of Afghanistan sliding back to being a safe haven for terrorists and extremists, those planning the withdrawal have to take it into account, take measure of the security situation on the ground and the capability of Afghan National Security Forces to take care of the security of their country.

Curiously, the three countries argued that since NATO was there thanks to a UN mandate, it was duty bound to stick it out -  come what may.

On both the issues of North Korea and Iran, they asserted that a solution had to be reached via peaceful means without outside interference, and in accordance with UN principles (meaning without resort to force of arms).

This was true also in the case of Syria, where Syrian sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity had to be respected and violence had to be renounced by all sides and not just by the Syrian government.

The 3 countries called for shifting economic governance from the G8 to the G 20, as this would ensure a more equitable distribution of voting power between developed and developing countries. Russia is expected to assume the leadership of the G 20 in 2013.

Aside from the communique, India also pleased Russia and China by declaring its readiness for full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, even though full membership for India will probably be balanced by full membership for Pakistan.

This organization is dominated by China and Russia. Some strategists view it as a counterweight to NATO and a land bridge between Europe and the Pacific via Central Asia.