Why Are Western Influencers Fearmongering About Indian-Russian Ties?
Instead of informing their audience about how Jaishankar’s trip to Moscow was a reaction to the West’s hosting of bonafide anti-Indian forces in full betrayal of their side’s strategic interests vis-à-vis China, McFaul and Oakeshott twisted reality by blaming India and misportraying it as a politically unreliable partner.
Former American Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and British journalist Isabel Oakeshott attracted enormous attention over the weekend for fearmongering about Indian-Russian ties. The first claimed in a tweet that India was selling out its values for money while the second wrote a lengthy article for the Telegraph ranting about how it’s supposedly moving away from the West. Both experienced powerful pushback from average Indians, who were disgusted at how those two defamed their country.
Most Western influencers used to treat the topic of Indian-Russian ties with sensitivity due to their New Cold War bloc’s strategic interests in relying on India as a counterweight to China, but that all changed from September onward. Canada accused India of assassinating a Delhi-designated terrorist-separatist with dual citizenship on its soil while the US filed charges against an unnamed Indian official in late November alleging that they plotted to organize the asme against a similarly categorized individual.
It was assessed at the time that “India’s Honeymoon With The West Might Finally Be Over”, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was the US hosting Pakistani Chief Of Army Staff Asim Munir in mid-December at the same time that it confirmed that Biden declined Modi’s invitation from three months prior to attend this month’s Republic Day celebrations. This coordinated move boded ill for bilateral ties and led to External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar prioritizing his trip to Moscow.
India’s top diplomat visited at the last week of the year, which most Russian officials take off ahead of annual holidays from 1-10 January, but they remained in the capital to meet with him despite this tradition due to the importance of his trip given the larger context in which it took place. They correctly concluded that India was once again recalibrating its balancing act (multi-alignment) in light of newly troubled ties with the West attributable to them hosting Delhi-designated terrorists-separatists.
This took the form of these two decades-long special and strategic partners strengthening the energy (including nuclear), military, and trade dimensions of their ties, which didn’t objectively occur at the expense of any third parties’ interests but was still perceived as such by those with zero-sum interests like the West. That New Cold War bloc didn’t expect India to make such a major move, let alone so soon after they initiated the latest troubles in their ties, hence the overreaction from McFaul and Oakeshott.
Instead of informing their audience about how this was a reaction to the West’s hosting of bonafide anti-Indian forces in full betrayal of their side’s strategic interests vis-à-vis China that were earlier touched upon, they twisted reality by blaming India and misportraying it as a politically unreliable partner. Even worse, those two Western influencers conspicuously omitted any reference to their side’s hypocritical ties with China and Pakistan, which contradict the so-called values-centric policies that they pushed.
Neither McFaul, Oakeshott, nor their colleagues/peers who’ve spewed similar such fearmongering claims about India since EAM Jaishankar’s trip to Moscow coordinated their respective information provocations, but they didn’t have to since they all dutifully reacted to the Anglosphere’s dog whistles. Canada and the US’ accusations of Indian complicity in an actual and attempted assassination respectively served to influence “thought leaders” into shifting their stance towards that country.
For reasons of professional interests, shared ideological ones with the Democrat-led US’ unipolar liberal-globalist worldview that’s incompatible with India’s multipolar conservative-sovereigntist one, and to a lesser degree out of simply solidarity with the West, they all suddenly echoed the same claims on que. The end effect is that their domestic and international audiences are becoming preconditioned to expect a further worsening of India’s ties with the West that’s being spun as solely being Delhi’s own fault.
Accordingly, whatever moves the West takes will be falsely perceived as a response in defense of their interests and values, such ramping up their information provocations and meddling campaign ahead of India’s elections in spring as expected. It’s in preparation of this scenario that Western influencers are fearmongering about Indian-Russian ties in order justify it on the basis that Modi “deserves to be deposed” after “turning India into a dictatorship” and “siding with Putin against the West”.
The incipient Sino-Western thaw, which has seen the resumption of military-to-military communications between China and the US as well as the UK reportedly considering the revival of trade talks with China, is ignored by these same influencers as is their side’s close ties with de facto military-run Pakistan. These aforementioned facts discredit this bloc’s so-called values-centric policies and expose the self-interested hypocrisy behind their newfound fearmongering about Indian-Russian ties.
India never had any military tensions with the West remotely similar to China’s in recent years, nor has it ever been run by the military like Pakistan informally returned to being since last spring, which proves the double standards at play when it comes to the bases upon which these Western influencers are criticizing India. In response to being called out about this, McFaul candidly admitted that “I’m not an expert on these (South Asian) issues”, while Oakeshott doubled down by pretending to be a victim.
The very fact that they reacted to the powerful pushback that they experienced shows that average Indians made a difference by successfully pressuring those two to defend what they wrote, which neither was able to but only the first conceded that they’re out of their league. Looking forward, this sort of large-scale pushback might make other influencers think twice before fearmongering about India and defaming it, though many will still likely have to learn this lesson themselves.