Russian Interests in Soth Asia and the Kargil Crisis

19 Aug, 1999    ·   248

KM Pari Velan argues that Russia's stand on Kargil crisis is based on its global and regional interests. In the changed post Cold War environment, Russia is looking for as many partners as possible to counter the uni-polarity effected by U.S. hegemony

Facing a Kargil like situation in its own province, of a Dageston,  Russia perceives Kargil crisis as an issue that had implications for geo-politics in South Asia and its own interests. So it expressed serious concern over the heightened tension in the region and urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and settle the matter through dialogue. This has been the traditional position of the former Soviet Union and present Russian Federation . It encouraged India and Pakistan to adhered the Shimla agreement and Lahore declaration.



Russia is sensitive to the Kashmir dispute in general, and Kargil in particular for the following reasons:



·                     Any tenson between India and Pakistan could spill over in to the CIS region (Common Wealth of Independent  States),  which has a  geographical proximity to the South Asian region. The Afghan crisis is already causing of tension in the neighbouring states of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan Russian troops are assisting in maintaining border vigilance to contain any spill over effects.


·                     Facing a Kargil like situation at Chechnya earlier and Dagestan now, Russia expects such issues to be sorted out between India and Pakistan without outside intervention.


·                     Russia does not want the U.S. or China to influence the region directly through the Kashmir dispute, which may tilt the balance of power against it.


·                     Heightened tension could also hamper the prospects of trade and economic relations with India and Pakistan




Russia 's stand on Kargil crisis is based on its global and regional interests. In the changed post Cold War environment,  Russia is looking for as many partners as possible to counter the uni-polarity effected by U.S. hegemony. The proposal "for a trategic triangle" involving Russia, India and China, the revival of a "Strategic partnership" with India, and Russia's interests in improving its relations with Pakistan were the product of this thinking.



At the regional level, Russia is to developing  its relations with Pakistan .  The visit of Pakistan 's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Moscow early this year was significant. The Russian interests in Pakistan emanate from the threat of Islamic fundamentalism along its borders, the on going crisis in Afghanistan , and the prospects of trade. The fear of Islamic fundamentalists has become a reality more with the happenings in Dagestan , where Russia is facing its "Kargil", and is confronting extremists groups, plotting to liberate Dagestan . The other development in regard to Pakistan is Russia 's acceptance to help in launching a Pakistani satellite, “Badr II’, in the effort to boost trade and economic relations.  The recent Tashkent meeting (6+2) on the Afghan crisis is another plane for building close relation  between Russia and Pakistan .



With India , Russia will continue its special relations with India for economic, strategic and political reasons. Both the countries have agreed recently to utilise the rupee-rouble debt funds for investment in India . These investments proposals include the steel, power, engineering and metallurgy sectors. The thrust would be on the modernization of the Indian Iron and steel company (IISCO).  The other main investment thrust relates to the 2000 m.w. nuclear plant at Kudankulam (Tamil nadu).



Other positive developments the relationship between India and Russia comprise:-



·                     Battleship ‘project 11356 frigate’ prepared by Russia for India ; it is an upgraded version of the 4,000 ton Krivak  class frigate to carry a naval version of the ‘Prithvi’.


·                     Russia will complete the delivery of 10 state-of-the art Sukhoi    Su –30K multi- role fighter to India by end August this year .


·                     Three Russian built frigates, bought at an estimated cost of Rs. 2, 400 crores are to enter service with the Indian navy between 2002 and 2004.


·                     Naval defence co-operation is a priority area for the long term defence cooperation programme till 2010, which was signed in 1988.


·                     A decision to establish Russian-Indian co-operation in the information area was reached during the visit of Anatoly Lukyanoy, Chairman of the State Duma committee on legislation.  He said “ Russia and India will deepen the bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation which have reached the level of strategic partnership representing an important factor of international relations."




To conclude,  it is imperative  for Russia   to maintain close relations with both India and Pakistan .  It has vital interests in the entire South Asian region. In Russia ’s view the  maintenance of peace is essential for the region's interests, but also it’s interests.