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What do Russia-China and Saudi-Iran deals mean for India?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: International Relations


Source: TH

 Context: As Russia-China bolster ties, Saudi Arabia-Iran strike a deal (with China’s mediation), India’s tightrope walk gets tougher ahead of a number of crucial meetings – G7, G20, SCO and Quad.


Recent global developments:

OverallFor India
Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement: In a surprise announcement, the countries decided to re-establish full diplomatic ties after talks mediated in China.●       May end Shia-Sunni rivalry – long being part of West Asian politics

●       End to  proxy conflicts in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq

●       The decline of western influence, boost to Chinese influence

●       Iran and Saudi Arabia are both close friends of India, so their deal is a positive

●       However, the fact that China is a guarantor of the deal makes both countries much close to Beijing

●       India’s strain with Iran, over cancelling oil imports, reducing investment in Chabahar due to US sanctions and the I2U2 → China’s increasing presence →  hurting India’s plans to circumvent Pakistan

●       Connectivity for India via Chabahar, INSTC to Russia could also be hampered

The International Criminal Court convicted Russian President Putin in a number of alleged kidnappings of children in Ukraine.●       Could impact Putin’s future travel

●       As none of Russia, China, the US or India is a signatory to the ICC, so this may not make a difference

Xi travels to Moscow: A year after Putin went to Beijing and reaffirmed the relationship between them.●       No-limits partnership

●       Not a military alliance

●       Adheres to non-alignment, non-confrontation, and non-targeting of third countries

●       Not allow multipolar organisations to be politicised – indicating the current logjam at the G-20

●       Russia is a traditional friend and China is a traditional foe/rival

●       China’s plans for more defence imports from Russia (remember China bought the S-400 before India) could hurt India’s strategic interest.

●       The new front will make consensus at the G-20 much more difficult

Iran-Russia-China held naval exercises in the Gulf Of OmanWhile Russia and China have held joint military exercises before, the inclusion of Iran is significant


Saudi Arabia clears decision to join SCOMore will be known when India hosts the SCO summit this year 


Other developments:

  • AUKUS: US, Australia and UK announced the 3-phase plan – a $368 Billion deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines over the next 30 years.
  • Japanese PM’s visit to Delhi: Japanese PM unveiled Japan’s new Indo-Pacific Policy and indicated that Japan stands against both Russia and China’s military plans.
  • US hosted a virtual Democracy Summit: Pitching a front of democracies vs authoritarian states – deepening the global divide as
    • Neither China nor Russia was invited, but Taiwan was.
    • They called the Ukraine War – an assault on democracy.



Challenges for India: India is a common factor on both sides – therefore it has to walk a tough tightrope between its

  • Continental ties (Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia and Russia) and
  • Maritime strategy (Quad, UK, France, Germany, EU, IOR countries- Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, etc).



  • There is a reason that India’s current foreign policy (where there is a Quad, SCO, G-7, and G-20) of strategic autonomy and multipolarity is not so different from its traditional foreign policy of non-alignment.
  • Instead of seeing non-alignment as a compulsion, there is merit in seeing India’s traditional balancing act as one that gives its foreign policy maximum flexibility to serve India’s needs.


Insta Links:

International Relations


Mains Links:

The newly tri-nation partnership AUKUS is aimed at countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Is it going to supersede the existing partnerships in the region? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario. (UPSC 2021)