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The Indian Century

The Indian Century

A possible new trade route between Russia and India to take shape starting in 2023.

Diligent followers of international policy will likely see 2023 as the starting point for the official acknowledgment of a new power dynamic, one where the War in Ukraine will set the barrier between world powers old and new. Despite constantly changing predictions on the conflict in the East of Ukraine, there are no quick solutions, invincible tanks, massive advantages or much progress on the ground. The much discussed upcoming spring offensive may have already started due to mild weather and an influx of new equipment and conscripts, the result of which will likely determine the outcome of the war. A return to similar front lines as were static since 2014 may be the end result of both sides who have exhausted equipment supplies and have become increasingly entrenched. The dramatic loss of NATO sourced modern equipment, especially tanks, can change the narrative rapidly as the perception of weakness has rapidly shifted policy approaches since the fall of Afghanistan.

Sanctions against Russia have pressured countries dependent on Russian energy to take a policy stance on their future relations with not only Russian oil and gas, but all exports. Associated conflicts have or will erupt based on the response great powers see as beneficial to their future growth over the next generation. Smaller nations in regions south of Russia have been taking new positions, depending on where they see their future successes. The question of Russia’s relations with China, especially considering possible military support for Russia, is a major concern for those fighting in Ukraine. A new trade corridor through to China will be established, but with historical disagreements still on the minds of both sides, a cautious relationship is forming. Another possible trade route will link Russia’s economy closer to India, becoming a major influence over future politics in the region.

One nation that stands out as being in the centre of much of the new policy and trade shift is India. The future prospects of India’s economy is measured by its good relations with different countries abroad, high education, its ever growing population and military prowess. Despite being considered a close Western ally, India has benefitted from access to low cost Russian oil and gas along with good relations with both sides of the conflict in Ukraine. Little pressure has been put on India due to its position as a Western ally that acts as a bulwark against China and extremism in Asia, laying an international focus on keeping India strong and secure. India always stood out as an ally to those countries who seek trade, and their military being a mix of Western, French and Russian military designs is a reflection of their place in the security structure of their region. For this reason, trade with India may unlock a prosperous future, but conflict with India may end up being an economic disaster. One scenario sees ships being prevented from accessing ports in China if India supports an American blockade during a conflict against Taiwan. Regarding India, its always best to trade instead of compete.

The access Russia will seek with India travels through some conflicted territory in the Caspian Sea region and across Iran. India’s ever growing influence in the Caspian Sea region makes conflict between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Armenia a possible choke point for Russian-Indian trade on this proposed route. Self inflicted flare ups between Iran’s government and minority groups inside Iran and on the border ties protests to Iran’s wider population. While human rights should be paramount for any country’s trade relations, the lack of attention seen in the West will do little to push Russia to avoid the region or motivate India to demand stability and freedom in the region itself. While a free Iran would benefit all powers and likely displace many security issues in the region, both sides need to consider the consequences of abandoning those asking for freedom. India can likely motivate their trade partners for a minimization of conflicts, peaceful government transitions, demand stability and basic human rights, and apply power in the new trade region with a voice that both sides will trust. Without this trade route, chaos west of India is assured, and Russia will be forced to expand its security structure even farther past its current borders. Even in this scenario, India will likely prosper due to its relations with strong allies in the West. It seems as if the choice is between internal conflict or peaceful trade with India. Each nation in the relationship will choose one or the other and it will establish the future for the next few generations.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration