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India more powerful today, can have relations with both Russia, West: Fareed Zakaria


APRIL 15, 2022

India will be able to have reasonable relations with Russia as well as the West as it is much more powerful today than in the Cold War era, said veteran journalist and geopolitical expert Fareed Zakaria in an exclusive interview with India Today TV.

Despite pressure from the West to speak out against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, India has so far taken a neutral stand on the issue. India has also abstained from voting against Russia at the United Nations.

When asked if India will have to make choices of the kind that they perhaps made at the time of the Cold War era, Fareed Zakaria said, “I don’t think India faces the same pressure. Largely because it is a much more powerful country today than it was during the Cold War. India will be able to have it both ways… will be able to have reasonable relations with Russia while maintaining good relations with the West.”

However, Fareed Zakaria said that India needs to be wary of the rise of China and its close ties with Russia. “The fundamental question India needs to ask itself is, does the rise of China change anything? The rise of China is directly threatening Indian security and its national interest… how can having the same foreign policy for 30-40 years make any sense? My fundamental argument to India is that you act in your real national interest,” he said.

“In a circumstance where Russia, in a sense, is a junior partner of China, how should India think about its national interests? I sometimes hear Delhi elites telling me how the West is declining and the East is rising and India is going to bet on that. When you stop sending your children to Chinese universities, that’s when I’ll agree that you actually believe in this. The truth of the matter is that India as a society is much more comfortable in dealing with open democracy,” Fareed Zakaria added.

Russia’s invasion bigger than 9/11

Fareed Zakaria said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a much bigger event than the 9/11 terror attack. Calling it the “most significant international event” in the post-Cold War era, Fareed Zakaria said, “Just as the fall of the Berlin wall ushered in a new world order, the Russian invasion of Ukraine will have those seismic and systematic implications.”

When asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to revive the USSR, Fareed Zakaria said, “Russia is the last multi-national empire that has gone through the phase of decolonisation. The idea of Russia being the greatest without Ukraine is impossible.”

Speaking about China’s role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Fareed Zakaria said, “China has rhetorically supported the Russians but practically has not really provided Russia the kind of support that allows autocracies.”

While praising US President Joe Biden, Fareed Zakaria said that he has done an “impressive job in handling the whole Russia-Ukraine crisis”. “The US has been able to put much more punishing sanctions than anyone,” he said.

Divide between liberal and illiberal democracies

Sometimes illiberals are able to manipulate and shut down public opinion effectively, said Fareed Zakaria, adding, “However, in the long run, open societies turn out to be stronger. In the 1930s, people said democracy is finished, but it turned out not to be true. Democracies had more sustainability. At the end of the day, I ultimately continue to believe democracies have flexibility. Look at India, it is a democracy and see how it is expanding…,” he said.

He added, “The Russian economy is facing a 20 per cent decline in per capita GDP. It is paying a huge price. Will that change Puin’s mind? No, because he is a dictator… But there is a huge price to pay. This deglobalisation is going to continue.”

Courtesy/Source: India Today