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Russia & India have huge potential in energy sector

The potential for increased cooperation between Russia and India in the energy sphere is immense. Investors in both nations looking to expand mutually beneficial projects, India’s energy minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, told RT.

There’s a lot of ongoing cooperative work in the sector of petroleum and natural gas [between Russia and India]. It contains tremendous potential.”

He noted that Russia has many ongoing projects in the energy arena in India and is looking to further invest in the country. As it was expressed at a number of meetings with Russian companies at the EEF this week. According to Puri, India’s investments in Russia’s energy sector amount to some $16 billion. Russia has invested around $14 billion in India. 

Puri also stated that India’s import dependence on liquid hydrocarbons and gas is about 85%. Only about 1% of the country’s energy imports come from Russia. As India forecasts its economy to grow to $5 trillion in the next three to four years, he expects the country’s energy per capita consumption to grow “exponentially,” giving further ground for boosting energy cooperation between the two states.

We’ve got the roadmap in terms of the potential [in the energy sphere]. Both sides would want long-term agreements which provide predictability, stability and prices,” Puri said.

Russia and India are strategic partners in energy secotr

He added that he expects a “fascinating dialogue” about expanding energy inflows to India in the near future, as the country’s energy demand makes it a rather attractive market. 

No matter where you find oil and gas, somebody has to consume it. Many existing markets have reached a point where they have their sources, they have imports. India is one country where you can’t go wrong on the demand assessment. So potentially it’s a fascinating dialogue to have,” Puri said.

India is in need of energy and energy sources are here [in Russia]. Russia and India are strategic partners in energy and nobody has a second opinion on that,” he concluded.

During the EEF plenary session on Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke positively about energy cooperation between India and Russia. He said it can bring stability to the global energy market, calling it a “major pillar of our strategic partnership.”

In his virtual address, Modi said Indian workers were taking part in gas projects in the “Amur region, from Yamal to Vladivostok and onward to Chennai.” He added that Indian authorities “envisage an energy and trade bridge.”

I am happy that the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor is making headway. This connectivity project, along with the International North-South [Transport] Corridor will bring India and Russia physically closer to each other,” Modi stated.

China wants to build a kilometer-sized starship!

While major technical hurdles stand in the way, an extra-large spacecraft (starship) could have broad applications

By DAVE MAKICHUK

In an effort to galvanize NASA’s return to the forefront, then-US Vice President Mike Pence sought to re-create the 1960s Cold War space race. Then the United States beat the Soviet Union to the lunar surface, The Washington Post reported.

But this time the role of rival was played not by the Soviet Union, but by China. Pence warned that China was trying “to seize the lunar strategic high ground.”

Bill Nelson, President Biden’s new NASA administrator, has carried on that hawkish rhetoric. He is casting China as “a very aggressive competitor” that has big ambitions in space and is challenging America’s leadership. The question one should ask is – what American leadership is he talking about?

“Watch the Chinese,” he recently warned.

Watch them, indeed!

They have now announced one of the most ambitious space projects in human history. It is a plan to build a kilometer-level starship at least be 10 times the length of the International Space Station (ISS). The news that will likely reverberate with NASA and the Pentagon, The Global Times reported.

Experts say that a number of major technical and management hurdles stand in the way. However, the in-orbit assembly of an extra-large spacecraft could have broad applications, such as the building of a space power plant that will generate electricity for the planet.

China is studying the project as part of its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period. It is expected to become a major strategic vehicle for its future use of space resources, deep-space explorations and long-term human stays in outer space.

Deep Space Nine 

As soon as the news came out, it lit up the Chinese internet, especially among space sci-fi fans. Some thrilled netizens jokingly compared it to the “starships” in movies and TV series, such as Deep Space Nine.

However, space experts say that there will be a great deal of challenges that must be overcome, apart from the huge demand for manpower and resources, considering the tremendous size and complexity of the spacecraft.

“Take the ISS as an example. Due to thrust limitations of launching vehicles, it also adopted the approach to assemble the parts in-orbit, which were delivered in separate spaceflights over a number of years,” Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based space expert and researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology, told the Global Times.

“It took the ISS 12 years — from 1998 to 2010 — to finally complete the construction. And by the time of completion, the first module that was launched more than a decade prior had almost reached its lifespan.

“It can be speculated that the kilometer-level spacecraft will take even longer to build. And it will have much higher requirements for the lifespan of its core components, and the ability to replace components flexibly,” he added. 

Researchers will be tasked to minimize the weight of the modules and the number of launches to reduce construction costs, Pang said.

They also must ensure the controllability of the overall structure, so that attitude drifts, deformation and vibration can be limited during in-orbit assembly.

The complexity not only rests on technical issues, but also the overall planning and management of the project. It must also consider the threats of space debris.

Many difficulties but massive potential

The difficulties to construct such a spacecraft are great. However, experts say it has massive scientific and military potential.

It could be used for building a space power plant. Therefore enabling a large-scale all-weather power generation by transferring solar power to electricity and beaming it down to Earth. 

China has also made breakthroughs in developing its new super-heavy-lift carrier rocket. It is rolling out the country’s first 9.5-meter-diameter rocket tank bottom and liquid booster engine earlier this month. 

The launch vehicle may point to the Long March 9 carrier rocket. It will be used for future crewed lunar missions, deep space exploration and space infrastructure.

China launched the core of its space station in April, and sent three astronauts up in June.

The space station probably won’t be complete until late 2022. However, there is already a long queue of experiments from across the world waiting to go up, Nature.com reported.

Scientists say that the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) has tentatively approved more than 1,000 experiments, several of which have already been launched.

Before April, the International Space Station (ISS) was the only space laboratory in orbit. Many researchers say Tiangong (or “heavenly palace”) is a welcome addition for astronomical and Earth observation, and for studying how microgravity and cosmic radiation affect phenomena such as bacterial growth and fluid mixing.

Are crewed space stations too costly?

However, others argue that crewed space stations are costly, and serve more of a political than a scientific purpose.

Increased scientific access to space is of scientific benefit globally. It does not matter who builds and operates platforms.

“We need more space stations, because one space station is definitely not enough,” adds Agnieszka Pollo, an astrophysicist at the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Warsaw who is part of a team sending an experiment to study Y-ray bursts.

Meanwhile, don’t look for any international cooperation any time soon.

NASA has been barred by law since 2011 from partnering with China! No Chinese astronaut has ever been aboard the ISS, which has been host to astronauts from nearly 20 nations.

There is no prospect of that changing anytime soon in a Washington where China is seen as a fierce competitor in a wide range of technological endeavors, from quantum computers to the rollout of 5G.

That is especially true for space, because the technologies used in space also are used for national defense.

“These deep concerns about China as a military competitor forestalls cooperation in dual-use technologies. There are no technologies used in space that aren’t dual-use,” he said.

US and Chinese cooperation in space would require the kind of detente that the US and Soviet Union achieved during the Cold War.

“But we are very far from that.”


Sources: The Global Times, The Washington PostCenter for Strategic and International StudiesNature.comChina Academy of Space Technology

The AUKUS preparing a nuclear war to sustain Taiwan

The official reactions to the announcement of the Australian-British-US pact (AUKUS) are only about the termination of the Australian-French arms contract. As terrible as this is for the shipyards, it is only a collateral consequence of a reversal of alliances aimed at preparing for a war against China

by Thierry Meyssan

The announcement of the Australian-British-US (A-UK-US) pact was like an earthquake in the Indo-Pacific region.

There is no doubt that Washington is preparing for a long-term military confrontation with China.

Until now, the Western deployment to contain China politically and militarily has involved the United States and the United Kingdom as well as France and Germany. Today, the Europeans are left out. And tomorrow the area will be controlled by the Quad+ (US and UK, plus Australia, India and Japan). Washington is preparing a war in one or two decades.

France and Germany have not been consulted on this strategy. Nor even warned of its public announcement! However, some other countries had been warned, such as Indonesia.

It is logical that London and Washington should rely on Camberra rather than Paris. Australia is a member of the “Five Eyes” with which France is just associated. The entry into the game of Japan and especially India puts an end to a long period of uncertainty. More troubling is the role assigned to Germany. Germans could join the “Five Eyes”, but not the Quad. Meaning – spying on telecommunications, but not military action.

Alliances shaken up

The A-NZ-US, which linked Australia, New Zealand and the United States, has not been in operation since 1985. It has been definitively buried. New Zealand had affirmed its policy of nuclear disarmament and consequently refused entry to its ports to nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered ships. Since the Pentagon refuses to reveal these “details”, no US warship has entered the country. Future Australian submarines will also be banned.

For the moment, the European Union has not reacted. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was giving a state of the Union address on the same day the AUKUS pact was announced, is paralyzed. She was talking about her new strategy in the Indo-Pacific area! All while the Brexit Brits were pulling the rug out from under her. Not only is the European Union not a military power, but those of its members who are, will no longer have a say.

NATO is silent. It had ambitions to expand in the Indo-Pacific and understands that it will not be part of the game.

ASEAN has not reacted either, but the Indonesians who host its general secretariat have already expressed their disappointment. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was conceived during the Cold War like ANZUS or the EU to contain the communist bloc. However it evolved afterwards. Unlike the EU, which has become a supra-national bureaucracy, ASEAN, influenced by the ideology of the Non-Aligned Movement. It aspires to form a vast free trade area that includes China. Without delay, many Indonesian intellectuals have denounced the torpedoing of this dream of peace by the AUKUS.

Beijing is offering economic exchanges to all, while Washington is offering war

China and Russia, the main enemies designated by the Anglo-Saxons, have not yet reacted. Unlike the West, they never communicate about their intentions. But they communicate about the decisions they have already taken and implemented. Speaking for itself, China has expressed indignation at the Anglo-Saxon mentality of forming the broadest and most powerful alliances possible without regard to the intricacies of each player. This is not a communication trick: the Chinese consider everyone as an equal with their own particularities. The day after the AUKS announcement, China formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It is the successor organization to President Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. The coincidence of the two events is officially purely fortuitious. In practice, Beijing is offering economic exchanges to all, while Washington is offering war.

The nuclear Spectre

Until now, and probably still today, the United States considers that having nuclear-powered ships opens the way quickly to the construction of atomic bombs. This is why it has only offered nuclear propulsion technology to its British ally. Therefore – and whatever the Australians say – building nuclear-powered submarines prepares Australia for entry into the club of atomic powers. The war against China will be a nuclear war!

From this point of view, Japan’s entry into the Quad after the traumas of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is an achievement.

Until now, only the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council had nuclear-powered submarines. India has become the sixth and Australia is expected to be the seventh.

Since the United States can no longer maintain its rhetoric of dual-use nuclear technology, it can no longer claim that Iranian nuclear research is for military purposes. This should pave the way for open cooperation between Washington and Tehran, which Israel immediately anticipated.

THE downgrading of the Europeans

The first loser in this new architecture is France. It has lost its status as a global power. It still retains its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The decline of Paris was foreseeable since its armies were placed under U.S. command within NATO’s Integrated Command in 2009. Today, they are no longer able to defend the entire French territory. Instead they send expeditionary forces to defend US interests in Africa. Indeed, the United States has still not managed to deploy AfriCom on the black continent. It uses French ground troops, which it supports with its air surveillance system.

Paris reacted… by canceling a gala event at its embassy in the United States. The Quai d’Orsay asked the State Department for urgent explanations in the hours preceding the AUKUS announcement. In the end, it considered that Australia had knowingly hidden this project from it, which was instigated by the United States. He therefore recalled his ambassadors in Canberra and Washington. France decided to communicate about the contract of the century cancelled by the Australians. This $90 billion agreement is not much compared to what is at stake and what it has lost.

Paris is all the more stunned because it had thought it had established a privileged relationship with London. Secret negotiations were under way to move the base of the British nuclear-powered submarines (Trident) to France in the event of Scotland’s secession from the United Kingdom.

France can take comfort in the fact that its downgrading is taking place in the context of the more general downgrading of all Europeans. The fact that Germany may eventually fare less badly is incidental. Berlin is only allowed to be an economic power and never since the Second World War to be a global political power.

French presence in Indo-Pacific region

France is not only a European metropolis. It is also a constellation of territories all over the world that gives it the second largest maritime domain in the world (after the United States). In the Indo-Pacific region, it has the departments of Reunion and Mayotte, the communities of New Caledonia and French Polynesia, the territory of Wallis and Futuna, the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). All of this is inhabited by 1.6 million French nationals.

France is therefore a power in the Indo-Pacific. As such, it has offered to help its European Union partners, which it has taken care to place outside the US-China strategic rivalry. It is a member of the Indian Ocean Commission. France participates in the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ summits, in its police and intelligence coordination (ASEANAPOL) and should soon join the Regional Cooperation Against Piracy (RECAAP). Ultimately, France, which is to assume the presidency of the European Council during the first half of 2022, planned to make use of its roots in the Indo-Pacific as one of the European Union’s challenges.


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United States is losing Europe for alliance with Australia

Was Biden wrong in upseting the oldest ally of United States – France?

I believe it is worth returning to this topic as it is significant on a very broad – global scene. New alliance between Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS). It would be wrong to see this not really new alliance as “Asian NATO”. Counting remaining two members of the “Quad” (India and Japan) would be, in my opinion premature. That particularly applies for India. India does not want to abandon its Non-Aligned status in return of irritating China. Anyone planning to see Japan as part of that alliance is forgetting enormous historical burden it would bring with it. Not even South Korea would want to join it. Not to mention other Asian states that were victims of Japanese aggression during WWII.

It might turn that by taking his first step towards creation of “Asian NATO”, Joe Biden unintentionally made the first step towards dismantilng NATO! If this turns to be correct prediction then we are witnessing geopolitical change comparable to the fall of Berlin Wall. The “Old Europe” and France in particular are shocked and speachless. Not much is happening behind the closed doors right now but that will change soon. Results of German election for federal parliament are still coming in. As soon as there is new government formed in Germany, there will be very active talks regarding future positioning of “Old Europe”. I have no doubts about that.

What if Washington’s hopes of Green Party in Germany holding country firmly under control? Those curious to see what the real “elections meddling” looks like should pay attention – pressure on all major actors on German political scene will be applied from Washington, Moscow, Beijing and Paris.

Franco-American relations worse since 1778

Defence alliance with the UK and Australia makes sense for United States. These are two countries that followed military adventure of US without exception. However, linking it to France – and the EU – makes no sense in the process. If this announcement was made without breaking contract for submarines between Australia and France, there would be no problems. Appart from countries involved it would be noticed only in Beijing and with mild reaction. With submarines being part of it the new alliance became global news. Reactions from Paris and Beijing were almost equaly lous. And, nobody should be surprised with that.

Biden administration has found itself embroiled in an avoidable conflict with Paris over the canceled multibillion-dollar defense contract between France and Australia. This gap is significant in the annals of Franco-American relations. For the first time since 1778, France recalled its ambassador from the United States. And it is unlikely that all this will soon subside. Inevitably, this will have serious consequences for the entire American alliance with France, the European Union and NATO. Ultimately, China and Russia will benefit from this turn of events.

Lack of sophistication

In fact, the United States and the United Kingdom needed to strengthen their military relations with Australia. It is the most powerful English-speaking democracy in this part of the world. Biden should be credited for doing something truly grandiose. Offering Australia patented American nuclear submarine technology – which Washington hasn’t done for another country since 1958 – to build a strong military alliance to curb China’s rise to India in the Pacific Ocean.

However, nowhere was it written that this union was to be created at the expense of a democratic France. In France, Washington has a capable military partner. The strongest on the European continent.  Like the United States and Britain, France also has interests in the Indo-Pacific.

Five years ago, Australia wanted to replenish its submarine fleet. Its Collins-class diesel submarines were in need of replacement. French defense contractor Naval Group was tasked with replacing six Australian Collins-class diesel submarines with 12 French Barracuda-class diesel submarines.

The deal began to collapse at least 15 months before the intervention of the Americans and British. It also became clear that Australia’s leaders really didn’t want another set of diesel submarines.

Ultimately, however, if Australia does not intend to use nuclear warheads on its submarines, then a nuclear submarine may not be worth the investment and time that Australia requires. Especially given that Australia lacks the infrastructure needed to build and maintain nuclear submarines.

It never occurred to anyone in Canberra or Washington to warn their friends in Paris about Australia’s imminent abandonment of French submarines in favor of Anglo-American ones. Was there really nothing that the Biden administration could not offer as comfort for Paris? It seemed like “adults” were ruling Washington again!

Losing Europe to win Australia?

Biden’s indifference to the interests of France provoked the outrage of the French. In my opinion, combined with some other factors, it could well lead to a serious collapse of the Euro-American alliance.

The severing of Franco-American relations over the Australian submarine deal may have been just the latest in a long string of incidents in which Europe’s leaders needed to take the final step in charting a new course further away from Washington. It will not happen soon but possibility of very different relationship between EU and Russia is quite realistic. Are we going to see Eurasia from Lisbon to Vladivostok without sanctions and walls?

For India Emperor has no clothes

India’ top diplomat S Jaishankar urges Western foreign-policy elites to engage in serious dialogue and compromise

By JAVIER M. PIEDRA

India has been sending a consistent message to the West over the past several years – apparently to no avail. The US may think in terms of a (conceptually problematic) Indo-Pacific region, but India is part of the Eurasian landmass; it sees itself more as a land/sea power than a maritime one. 

India, as a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), seeks a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific within the greater Eurasian context. This means that India will continue to deal with Russia, Iran, China and Myanmar (and anyone else) as it sees fit.

India perceived the changing dynamics in international relations long before Western foreign-policy elites caught on. It will decide matters of national security and external affairs according to its own perception of its interests.  

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in recent public appearances, has been trying to drill some sense into the ossified heads of Western foreign-policy elites.

One sometimes feels he has taken a leaf from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. The one in which two tailors convince the Emperor they can weave him a wardrobe that is invisible to fools or incompetent servants of the realm when in fact they make no clothes at all. They persuade onlookers to believe that the Emperor is wearing invisible clothes. 

Jaishankar’s message is that the policies of Western intellectuals have not been working, and unbeknownst to themselves, they are walking around buck-naked. Afghanistan, of course, has drawn devastating attention to their nakedness. 

Global politics have changed

If the West wishes to engage India meaningfully, it should pay attention to Jaishankar. As former foreign secretary of India and ambassador to the US and China, he has repeatedly counseled the West’s foreign-policy elites to ditch their post-1989 obsession with geopolitical gamesmanship – not his words – and engage in serious dialogue and compromise with other countries. 

In other words, Jaishankar is saying that just as the East India Company (1697-1857) and the British Raj (1858-1947) are things of the past, so is the post-1989 unipolar world. Global politics have changed. 

Jaishankar is calling on the West to reflect on many of its failed approaches to problem-solving in foreign affairs and accept that a rebalancing is taking place in the world. In his view, genuine dialogue and teamwork are more appropriate to current world affairs than the one-sided unilateralism, whining and zero-sum vision of Western foreign-policy elites of recent years. 

‘Good diplomacy’

Multipolarity is more than a weighted distribution of power among states – however that might be calculated – in which several groupings of states have roughly equal diplomatic, military, cultural, and economic influence. There’s more to it than that. A foreign policy viable over the long term, he insists, must be based on the inherent rights of sovereign nation-states. It does not matter however strong or weak, to engage, co-exist and have independent voices despite power asymmetries. 

Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington shortly after being appointed external affairs minister, Jaishankar stated that “a country keeps [its] relationships well-oiled with all the major power centers. And the country which does that best actually has a political positioning in the world which may be superior to its actual structural strengths.

“Good diplomacy,” he continued, “means more today than it did a few years ago.” He was urging the West to re-examine its current approach to foreign policy or risk irrelevance by alienating otherwise potentially friendly nation-states and disrupting the international system. 

An Indian proverb captures this nicely: “When the direction of the wind changes, adjust the sails on the boat.” That’s what India expects of the West. Namely, to institute a course correction lest sticky situations that could be resolved diplomatically descend into chaos. Afghanistan today is a good example, and there are many others.  

The West must not forget that history weighs heavily on India, which played no important role in the post-World War II order, and which had only a limited say in the Partition of British India in 1947.

The days of the British East India Company are over

Because of this, and given India’s undeniable rise in the 21st century, the West must be careful not to exclude India from the “high table,” as Jaishankar has said. The West must neither be seen in India as using the country to underwrite its own geo-strategic objectives nor as a toll road or platform for its own commercial interests. 

The days of the British East India Company are oer. Its motto, “By Command of the King and Parliament of England,” no longer applies to India. And much less to Eurasia. 

India is a forgiving nation but has a long memory. At the Atlantic Council in 2019, Jaishankar reminded the West of India’s “two centuries of humiliation” at the hands of the British.

He would never have said that in an open forum with the cameras rolling unless he wanted to remind his audience that Britain extracted from India the equivalent of some US$45 trillion during the colonial period. He wanted to convey a message: It’s high time the West rethinks its approach to international engagement, and especially to India. 

The West must come to grips with the fact that “there is a very radical change underway in the world. A radical change in the sense that this time around, really, the 1945 world order is running out of gas.” 

At the India Economic Conclave this March, Jaishankar said that China “has strategically ‘out-thought’ the West over successive generations. That explains why they are where they are. I’ve always seen lessons in China’s growth. In China’s importance, salience, centrality, call it what you want. To me, yes, China is a neighbor. And in many ways a challenging neighbor. It should inspire us.”

India sees the use of military as a last resort

One might infer Jaishankar thinks that if the West picks a fight with China, it must be the right fight. If it bites off more than it can chew, the outcome could well be far from pleasant. India sees the use of the military as a last resort. It was evident when India, in 2020, deployed reinforcements to Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. 

The joint press conference of US Secretary of State Anton Blinken and Indian EAM Jaishankar on July 28 in Delhi further confirms that India lost patience with Western sermons about India’s violations of human rights, which India does not deny. But when similar violations are leveled against the West, somehow the “Emperor” is fully decked out in new clothes.

Jaishankar was nothing if not diplomatic when reacting to Blinken’s criticism of Indian democracy. Jaishankar made three pointed observations: “Number one, the quest for a more perfect union applies as much to Indian democracy as it does to the American one – indeed, to all democracies. 

“Number two, it is the moral obligation of all – of all polities to right wrongs when they have been done, including historically. And many of the decisions and policies you’ve seen in the last few years fall in that category.

“Number three, freedoms are important, we value them, but never equate freedom with non-governance or lack of governance or poor governance. They are two completely different things.” 

To criticize the United States at a press conference is not an everyday event. India is telling the West that diplomacy comprises many views, opinions, and approaches. No single country holds a monopoly on virtuous political views and economic leadership. 

Dealing with China

India knows that the West has the habit of switching sides. There are many examples. Jaishankar reminds his Western counterparts that “when India was defeated in 1962, the West actually came to the assistance of India. But in less than a decade in 1971, when it seemed to the West that India was seeking primacy in the subcontinent, the West opposed India.”

There are certain red lines that should not be crossed; the West must be more consistent in its policies and show greater loyalty to its friends. It is a reasonable assumption that, here, Jaishankar is thinking of Pakistan’s historically close ties to the US. 

With respect to China, Jaishankar continues to meet with his Chinese counterpart, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. As reported on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, “China-India relations still remain at a low level, which is not in the interest of either side.” Nevertheless, expect the two sides to continue to engage in smart and tough diplomacy, making every effort to refrain from military encounters. 

India will hold its ground, especially on matters of territorial integrity. But in the first instance will negotiate to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. In this respect, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Naravane, like Jaishankar, understands the seriousness of the ongoing Sino-Indian border dispute along the Line of Actual Control. But rather than hurling bombs at the Chinese in public, he exudes a calm optimism. Showing no signs of paranoia or fear about China’s encroachment across the LAC.

“Trust but verify”

“China,” he says, “is trying to force its way and change the status quo with little regard for the interest of neighboring countries … trying to bulldoze its way. [Countries] need to take a stand and safeguard their interests…. [But] we must believe that China is serious this time [about finding a non-military solution to our northern border] and that [it] will abide by all clauses of this particular and previous agreements.”

The Indian army chief then calmly said that India’s approach to China is to “trust but verify.” It is ironic to hear a foreign statesman evoke Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify” mantra at a time when Western leaders have veered so sharply from Reagan’s (wildly successful) approach to ending the Cold War.  

India and China recognize that the border issue is “visibly impacting the relationship in a negative manner.” But as reported in the Kashmir Observer in July, “India and China have once again agreed to resolve their border standoff in Ladakh as prolonging the existing situation ‘was not in the interest of either side.’” 

And as David Goldman predicted in his Asia Times article “Cardinal Richelieu and the ghosts of empires past,” “India will quietly make its accommodation with China.” That seems to be the direction of Sino-Indian relations, whether the West likes it or not. 

Those in the West who are trying to convert the Quad from a strategic dialogue to a NATO-like military alliance should think twice, because the Indians will oppose its militarization. 

No ‘Asian NATO’

“The idea that when we come together and there is some sort of a threat or messaging to others, I think people need to get over this.… Using words like ‘Asian NATO,’ etc, is a mind-game which people are playing,” said Jaishankar.

“I can’t have other people have a veto about what I’m going to discuss, with whom I’m going to discuss, how much I’m going to contribute to the world. That’s my national choice. That kind of NATO mentality has never been India’s. If it has been there in Asia before I think it’s in other countries and regions, not in mine.”

One hopes that “neo-Mackinderite” proponents of the “Great Game” in Eurasia are listening.  

As Jaishankar has said, the “Quad is an expression of convergence of interests of many countries. It’s in many ways a reflection of the contemporary nature of the world order. We have to put the Cold War behind us; only those who are stuck in the Cold War can’t understand the Quad.” Going one step further, Jaishankar sees South-South cooperation as further evidence of the rebalancing that is taking place.

The West’s double standards

Minister Jaishankar, on his second trip in two months to Tehran, was more than clear when speaking of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi: “A warm meeting with President Ebrahim Raisi after his assumption of office. Conveyed the personal greetings of PM Narenda Modi. [Raisi’s] commitment to strengthening our bilateral relationship was manifest. So too was convergence in our regional interests. Looking forward to working with his team.”

Another disheartening moment for “neo-Mackinderites.” Jaishankar is not taking issue with the West for holding Iran accountable for human-rights violations and the export of terrorism, but he is saying that India will hold talks with anyone it pleases; 1989 is so yesterday.  

Another point worth reflecting on: What must Eurasian countries think when the West condemns Communist China, as it should, but showers praise and taxpayers’ money on Communist Vietnam? Vietnam’s leadership, after all, are committed communists whose track record on human rights is less that brilliant. The West’s double standard at the ideological level is surely as clear to Jaishankar as it is to everyone else. 

Ties with Russia

India and Russia have just wrapped up joint anti-terrorist military exercises in the Volgograd region in southern Russia. On a three-day visit in July to Moscow to prepare for the India-Russia bilateral annual summit, Jaishankar tweeted, “A warm and productive meeting with FM Sergey Lavrov. Reviewed preparations for our bilateral Annual Summit. Wide-ranging discussion on regional issues: Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Libya and Caucasus; ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific. 

“Spoke about recent global developments including Russia-US relations. Satisfied with our cooperation in multilateral organizations including UNSC. The quality of conversation reflected our special and privileged strategic partnership.”

To fill in the gaps, ​it wouldn’t hurt to read Jaishankar’s speech “India-Russia Ties in a Changing World” that he recently delivered at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow. 

And at the sixth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on September 3, Prime Minister Modi reiterated the special and privileged partnership between India and Russia.

“India and Russia will be partners in opening of the Northern Sea Route for international trade and Commerce.…. The friendship between India and Russia has stood the test of time.… India will be a reliable partner for Russia….

“I am happy that the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor is making headway. This connectivity project along with the International North-South Corridor will bring India and Russia physically closer to each other.” Eurasian connectivity and Indo-Russian partnership is clear-cut.  

 

‘Mutual respect’

There is much for the West to reflect upon. Jaishankar is not spouting “talking points” when he says that “the West [at different times] didn’t want India to get too weak, and the West didn’t want to let India get too strong.”

He seems to be saying that it will not be easy for India and the West to build a lasting strategic relationship unless India is no longer viewed, as it was in the past, as a pawn in a much larger geo-strategic game that is still going on in the minds of foreign-policy elites. Post-1989 hubris must stop. 

Rarely heard in Western media, Gravitas, a Delhi-based Indian news channel, has produced a provocative commentary that captures, rightly or wrongly, the sentiments of many in Asia toward Western foreign-policy elites, especially considering the debacle now playing out in Afghanistan.

“The US needs India’s strategic partnership at this point to tackle China, to tackle climate change, to beat the pandemic. Tells you how flimsy their ideas really are. You see, every friendship has a red line, in this case, that red line is domestic interference.

“The US cannot waltz in and weigh in on Indian democracy. No country can. And that’s the whole point of mutual respect and sovereignty. The question is ‘how can India and the US find a balance?’ The United States has no permanent friends, just interests.” 

The West must work harder to convince India, through words and deeds, that it sees India as more than a strategic pawn, a customer for military equipment or a platform to secure supply lines from China. Climate change, infrastructure, connectivity, capital markets, digital, data and people exchanges are all well and good, but in the final analysis, India, as any nation-state, wants to be treated with respect and dignity. 

G20 has really replaced G7

Western elites must get used to the fact that, as Jaishankar says, a geo-strategic repositioning is taking place in Eurasia. “And if there is a single way by which to capture [the much larger strategic and cultural recalibration under way], it is the fact that today the G20 has really replaced the G7 as the primary body for global deliberations.”

Jaishankar might be on to something. The Group of 20’s broad membership and penchant for constructive diplomacy just might induce our “neo-Makinderites” to reassess the politics of confrontation, and the Quad to become more inclusive and a mechanism for constructive engagement. 

Speaking at a meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council on September 2 in Bled, Slovenia, Jaishankar observed: “Europe needs to know that it has friends in Asia, in the Indo-Pacific; that a lot of the principles and the outlook that Europe has, a lot of other countries share. I think that the binary – Western/non-Western – is a false binary.”

India will act as India wants

In other words, India rejects the thinking that justified the British Raj, and that still dominates the post-1989 reasoning of many Western foreign-policy circles. India will act as India wants; we can expect others to do the same.

And so, as the Emperor and his foreign-policy mandarins strut about in their “new clothes” (while in reality being buck-naked), pretending to hold the keys to the kingdom, the bringers of peace, prosperity, and stability, EAM Jaishankar, and others, have the temerity to point out, “But the Emperor has no clothes!” 

NATO’s botched Afghan policy and exit, the further unraveling of “neo-Mackinderite” foreign-policy thinking, the forward march of Eurasian economic and cultural ties, and the rebalancing that Jaishankar has been talking about for years, just might force the much-needed agonizing reappraisal of Western policy that was needed in 1989, and again in 2001, but never happened. Perhaps this time it will.  


Javier M Piedra is a financial consultant, specialist in international development and former deputy assistant administrator for South and Central Asia at USAID

Pakistani Stream: Russia Goes South – Just Beginning

Sergey Savchuk

The foreign press reports that Russia continues to work to build up its strategic presence in key points on the world map. In this case, we are not talking about the army and the navy. It is about energy and specifically about the “Pakistani Stream”.The other day in Islamabad, a bilateral meeting ended, at which groups of technical specialists from both countries confirmed their readiness to implement the project, for which the development and coordination of technical issues and documentation will continue. The main difference from the memorandums of previous meetings is that geological exploration will begin along the route of the potential gas pipeline. That is, the future pipe makes its first step from paper to the ground.

Initially, the idea of ​​the project arose at a difficult time. In 2015, an intergovernmental agreement was signed on the development and construction of the North-South gas pipeline. With a length of almost 1,100 kilometers and a cost of about $ 2 billion. The implication was that Russian contractors would build a transit line from the port of Karachi to the city of Lahore. The peculiarity of the technical idea was that it was necessary to additionally build a regasification terminal in the port. There LNG would be delivered using sea LNG carriers. After being transferred back to a volatile state, it would go strictly north to the Punjab province.

For the next two years, the project moved very slowly. The parties could not agree on the size of tariffs for pumping gas. It is noteworthy that Russia demanded an increase in cost, otherwise the project was economically unprofitable. Then the next US sanctions were imposed on the Rostec corporation, the key executor on the part of Russia. That further impeded the implementation. 

Renaming the project – Pakistani Stream

Last fall, the parties revised the terms of the agreement again. This time exclusively at the request of Islamabad. The share of Pakistan’s participation in the project has grown from 51 to 74 percent. The condition of attracting and using only Russian materials, components and equipment is strictly stipulated. It was decided that Russia’s investment will not exceed 25 percent. Pakistan will cover all other costs. In the spring of this year, the project was renamed “Pakistani Stream”. The energy ministers of both countries announced their readiness to start construction in the very near future.

Pakistan is a country with a population of over 220 million. If you mark on tracing paper the location of all Pakistan’s power plants, and then superimpose this tracing paper on a physical map of the country, a critical imbalance will be visible to the naked eye. 20 stations operating on oil products. 22 thermal power plants operating on natural gas. Nine coal and three nuclear power plants. Pakistan needs light in the homes of its citizens and reliable sources of energy.

The implementation of the “Pakistani Stream” with a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic meters of gas per year will provide fuel for new power plants. That, in turn, will feed industrial enterprises concentrated in Punjab, on the border with India. If the project turns out to be successful, nothing prevents the gas pipeline from being extended to the capital. The transport shoulder from the city of Multan to Islamabad is just over four hundred kilometers.

Possible avalanche of global transformation

There is not the slightest doubt that the revitalization of the region is connected both with the political changes in Afghanistan and with the completion of the construction of Nord Stream 2. Russia has clearly shown that it is capable of completing any projects, even under the pressure of massive sanctions. India is striving to become the main metallurgical power in the world It simultaneously needs the iron ore of Afghanistan, coking coal and blue fuel from Russia. Pakistan wants to reach a new level of industrial development. This again requires natural gas, and all neighboring countries themselves are experiencing a deficit in it and clearly do not intend to share it with Islamabad. 

Afghanistan, in principle, is ready to absorb any amount of resources, since the electrification of the country, thanks to the incessant war, is at a medieval level.The American withdrawal from Afghanistan was the stone that moved an avalanche of global transformation. If the Taliban manage to keep the country from another all-out war of all against all, then in the very near future we will witness a battle for new energy, trade and industrial markets.

AUKUS – the beginning of the end of NATO?

Is creation of a new alliance between the US, UK and Australia – the beginning of the end of NATO pact?

So it started!

The announcement that the United States, Great Britain and Australia have entered into a joint pact in the field of defense and security, dubbed AUKUS, has become an event that has already caused quite a lot of noise in the world from the very beginning.

In particular, in China – this event was received with hostility. In Beijing, in general, they called this pact directed against China. And Chinese interests not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also in the world. China announced that this agreement between the three countries intensifies the arms race and seriously undermines the “regional peace”.

In the EU, this event, judging by the first reactions of politicians and various institutions of power on this fact, was a complete surprise. And even more, it was the reason why one of the EU countries, namely France as a whole, announced that this agreement on the creation of a kind of alliance – “was a stab in the back” which undermined trust between the allies!

Moreover, I want to note that the reaction of France in this case is quite understandable. This event became the reason for Australia’s refusal to purchase submarines from Paris.

First reactions

In the countries of Oceania, this event, in general, was the reason for the condemnation of the creation of a new military-political alliance and the signing of this agreement. In New Zealand, this event became the reason for the statement that they would ban Australian submarines from leaving their waters!

Only in Russia so far, at the time of this writing, this event has not been commented on at the official level. It has not generally expressed any reaction, but I think that if not today, then tomorrow this event will still receive assessment.

I consider this event from the point of view as the beginning of the end of NATO.

Yes! This is exactly what it is in my opinion. European members of NATO were already shaken in their trust in the aliance leaders – USA. It seems that Afghanistan debacle was just a beginning of something much bigger. Has American establishment made assessment that NATO is not necessary and is too expensive? Are we starting to witness transition of an intelligence alliance known as the “five eyes” into new military alliance spreading over Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Will Europe be left to deal with “Russian threat” on its own?

Why do I think so?

Let’s consider this situation, or rather this event, from a purely political point of view. EU “neither sleep nor spirit” knew about the ongoing negotiations on the creation of this alliance. This came as a complete surprise to the EU! It should be noted that it can and even should be regarded as an open expression of mistrust and even disregard on the part of the United States, Great Britain and Australia for the interests of their allies from the EU. 

In fact Washington, London and Canberra are simply, and not so simply, created a new military-political alliance without notifying their closest allies in the military-political NATO bloc about it. Thus, openly demonstrating their true attitude towards their own allies!

The creation of US, UK and Australia alliance in the field of defense and security without notifying its NATO allies is essentially nothing more than an open demonstration of complete disregard for the opinions of its so-called “allies.” In my opinion, it is a very rash step on the part of the participants in the new pact. It suggests that there is a rather serious split in views in the ranks of NATO. This gives a clear understanding of the fact that the very essence of the meaning of NATO’s existence for some of its member countries, such as the United States and Great Britain, has simply lost its relevance.

There is no alliance without trust

Well, the right thing is how you can be an ally with those who talk about the need to confront threats to Europe, but at the same time, behind Europe itself, it creates new alliances, which not only leave Europe alone with China, but also take away from the countries of Europe large enough orders for their military products?

It is impossible to talk about some kind of alliance if one of the parties makes and creates new pacts, about which the other ally finds out only after the fact. What do we understand and say that there is no longer any sense in the existence of NATO!

Secondly, if this event is viewed from a purely economic and technological point of view, then it should also be noted that the creation of this new alliance is nothing more than the beginning of the end of NATO! Especially if we take into account the fact that Australia has abandoned its plans to purchase submarines from France. 

The United States essentially destroyed the multi-billion dollar deal between France and Australia. And even more than that, the United States has pledged to transfer its technologies for the production of nuclear submarines! Yes, not transfer them to NATO member countries, but Australia – not even a member of NATO. In my opinion it also suggests that there is no longer any sense in the existence of NATO!

Technology transfer

During the entire existence of NATO, the United States has shared its technologies only with Great Britain!

There is a possibility that Europe may be outraged for the sake of appearance and then calmly forget all this. It would not be the first time. 

Something inside tells me that it is quite real. The events of recent year demonstrate to the whole world the fact that NATO is no longer relevant! And this event underlines this very clearly!

Please share your opinion in the comments!