Is France The New Best Friend Of India As Russia Takes A Back Seat?

India-Russia relations have traditionally been at the forefront of India’s foreign policy. For decades, Russia has served as a strategic and reliable partner for India on vital parameters like defence, security, economic cooperation and space. But is Russia losing its place to France?

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The recent developments in India’s foreign policy and global affairs hint at the fact that France is gradually replacing Russia as India’s premier ally. This new vibe in India-France relations can be felt ever since France sided by India in the recent UNSC meet on Kashmir.

The Indian PM is an on an official visit to France in order to hold bilateral discussions with the French President over a plethora of issues. These include defence, security, collaboration in India-Pacific region, counter-terrorism methods, measures to flourish trade and bilateral cooperation across various dimensions.

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Following the round of bilateral meets with the French President, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the G7 summit in France during this weekend. Clearly, there seems to be a tactical shift in India’s foreign policy which now seems to be inclining more towards Paris than Moscow. France seems to have become the new Russia for New Delhi.

India-France Eye Civil Nuclear Agreement

During the ongoing visit of PM Narendra Modi to France, both India and France have expressed their eagerness to jointly work on the development of the Jaitapur nuclear project in Maharashtra’s Konkan region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced during a joint press meet with President Macron that this will be the first time India will be signing a civil nuclear arrangement with any nation. Besides civil nuclear arrangements, there was a wide spectrum of other issues which were discussed.

Russia Was Once India’s All-Weather Buddy

When India wanted a strategic partner with veto power in the UNSC, it was the Soviet Union / Russia that India looked forward to. Russia is one nation which has always understood India’s security concerns, especially those emanating from Pakistan.

Russia has also been one of India’s ‘go-to friend’ when it has been about financial assistance or the import of defence equipment. But now it seems that France has taken over the mandate of being India’s premier ally. But the fact remains, can India actually afford to ignore Russia? Has Russia’s importance as a strategic ally of India to counter China and Pakistan declined in India’s ongoing diplomatic outreach?

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Both Russia and France are P5 members of the UNSC and having allies in them is of great strategic significance for India given the veto power that comes with their permanent seats. Now New Delhi is assured that it has two dependable friends who can veto any anti-Indian proposal.

Overall, India has been largely dependent on imports for meeting its modern-day defence needs. While the Indian Air Force is already flying the most advanced Russian Sukhoi fighter jets (SU-30 MKI’s), the first batch French Rafale will be received by the IAF soon hence bolstering the strike capabilities of IAF even further.

This is only one of the examples of India’s dependence on both nations to meet its security needs. The only way forward for New Delhi shall be finding that balancing and keep both strategic allies close in order to pursue its global ambitions.