On the 25th of April President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi met in New Delhi. The result of the meeting was the establishment of the EU-India Trade and Technology Council. As the EU-India Joint press release states, “This strategic coordination mechanism will allow both partners to tackle challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security, and thus deepen cooperation in these fields between the EU and India”.
This meeting is closely connected with the Russo- Ukrainian war, whereas while the EU fully supports Ukraine in the battle against the Russian army, India has taken a neutral position. New Delhi’s position is caused by at least three factors: military, strategy and energy.
First of all, India imports 60% of arms from Russia. Military imports include SU and MiG fighters, and S-400 air defense systems, and T-72, T-90 tanks, and aircraft carriers. Moreover, India rents a Russian nuclear submarine.
Secondly, India has harsh relations with China due to the territory dispute in Ladakh between two states. It is of the greatest importance for New Dehli not to let Russia form an alliance with China.
Finally, since the start of invasion Russia has had to diversify its oil exports due to sanctions imposed by Western countries. India took advantage of this situation and rumped up oil imports from Russia at discounted prices.
On the other hand, Western countries have enough leverage to separate India from Russia and to make New Delhi join the anti-Russian alliance.
As for the EU, it is the possibility to finally conclude a Free Trade Agreement. The FTA was a sticking point for the EU and India since 2004 when the strategic partnership was established. European and Indian expectations diverge on issues such as tariffs on cars, wines, and dairy products imported from the EU, and on the liberalization of the visa regime for Indian professionals entering the EU.
However, in economic terms, the FTA will boost trade and investment flows between the two regions. The EU is India’s largest trading partner (nearly 78 bn euro per year) and investor (the EU FDI reached 68 nb euro in 2018). Moreover, the EU is India’s second largest export destination (over 14% of Indian commodities reach European countries).
As for the USA and Great Britain, it is the possibility to enhance their strategic partnership with India in order to deter China. States have to reach a compromise: a more harsh position of the U.S. and Great Britain against China in favor of India’s support of Ukraine.
In the context of forming an anti-Putin coalition marked by a meeting of ministers of defense in Rammstein, it is of the highest importance for the Western countries to cooperate with such an influential power as India.