New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia on July 8-9 for the bilateral summit with President Vladimir Putin is integral to India’s strategic calculus as the Ukraine war is destined to escalate and the Israeli war on Hamas in Gaza shows no signs of abatement.

PM Narendra Modi with S Jaishankar.

To add to this, Pakistan under the guidance of India hater Munir Akram will join the UN Security Council as a temporary member for two years in January 2025 with all-weather friend China looking for an opportunity to either designate innocent Indians as global terrorists as in the past or pushing a resolution on Jammu and Kashmir. If that is not all, India will not be a member of the International Human Rights Council, Geneva next year. Last time in 2018 when India was not a member, the Council submitted a report on so-called human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Simply put, India will have to be proactive on the multilateral fora as Pakistan’s Akram will join hands with the Chinese to put India in a corner at the UN. Given the state of diplomatic play, PM Modi decided to go to Russia (the last time was in 2019) to hold bilateral discussions with President Putin as it was quite evident at the G-7 in Italy that the West will escalate in Ukraine through weapons and even boots on the ground. President Putin, on his part, has made it clear that he will arm adversaries of the West if there is an escalation in Crimea or the Russian hinterland and does not rule out the use of tactical nukes.

It is learned, that the July summit between PM Modi and President Putin is more about sharing the world view and less about bilateral outcomes.The fact is that India will have to be nimble-footed in international diplomacy as there are strong chances that Labor is coming to power in the UK, and French President Emmanuel Macron will in all likelihood be weakened with the right wing on the way to win the elections. This apart, the US is headed for Presidential elections with President Joe Biden and Donald Trump in a no-holds-barred fight before the November elections.

With the West pushing Russia into Ukraine, the Indian position has gotten complicated as Putin is forced to seek détente with Chinese President Xi Jinping even though Russia is being pressed by Beijing in its eastern periphery. While the West may pillory India for keeping all channels open for Russia, Bharat cannot afford to have Russia tying up with China as the majority of Indian military supplies still come from Moscow.

Even as the Chinese Navy expands its footprint in the Indian Ocean Region using BRI as leverage with Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, Indian diplomacy needs to be deft and proactive as status quo or fence sitting is no longer an option.