Leaders come bearing gifts . . .
The leaders of Japan and Australia each met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in recent days to strengthen bilateral ties and tighten their partnership in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad. Broadly speaking, the Quad, which also includes the U.S., aims to intensify economic and security ties among its members. To that end, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s in-person visit included a pledge to invest C$53 billion in India over the next five years, and at Monday’s virtual meeting, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced deals valued at around C$177 million in areas such as technology and critical minerals.
Agreeing to disagree . . .
While not stated explicitly, what really binds the Quad is a shared concern about the rise of China. However, another major power – Russia – has exposed cracks in its unity. Australia, Japan, and the U.S. have strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In contrast, the Indian government has steadfastly resisted condemnation, despite pressure from fellow Quad members to censure Moscow, including during the recent bilateral meetings. A key component of India’s long-standing relationship with Russia is its heavy reliance on Russian military equipment to deter rivals Pakistan and China. While both Kishida and Morrison issued strong statements about the Ukraine crisis during their meetings with Modi, a joint Kishida-Modi statement fell short of a shared condemnation, and Morrison reportedly expressed “understanding” of India’s position on the matter.
Taking the long view . . .
On the one hand, it appears that India’s Quad partners accept the need to agree to disagree on Russia-Ukraine. But a more significant outcome of the recent meetings was to reinforce that the Quad remains fundamentally focused on the immediate region and, in Morrison’s words, “ensuring that [events in Ukraine] could never occur here in the Indo-Pacific.” On Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden described India as “somewhat shaky” in its stance on Russia-Ukraine, but some experts believe Washington will give India a pass due to its longer-term interest in keeping New Delhi onside for the challenge of dealing with an ever more powerful China.
- Al Jazeera: Japan PM urges Modi to take tougher line against Russian invasion
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Australian and Indian PMs downplay differences on Ukraine as they unveil host of new agreements
- Nikkei Asia: India says Australia ‘understands’ Ukraine stance as war tests Quad