Conventional wisdom holds that New Delhi will turn to Washington as it increases competition with Beijing. But Moscow’s importance cannot be ignored.
Russia, one is told time and again in India, is a dependable partner. It will not pursue policy that will drag India into conflict. It will not, say, kill an Iranian general without bothering to so much as pick up the phone to let New Delhi know. (That it, say, annexed Crimea is of less concern to New Delhi, which did not issue a statement against the move back in 2014.) It will not change its foreign policy with each new president, because it will not have new presidents, and Russia will hold its tongue when it comes to what India regards as its internal affairs.
The same cannot be said for the United States. Even with Trump at the helm, many in the United States advance criticisms on human rights in India. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, has been critical of India’s actions in and on Kashmir. Rep. Pramila Jayapal has been, too—as a result, S. Jaishankar, India’s external affairs minister, refused to meet with Jayapal and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, saying he had “no interest in meeting her.” And despite Modi and Trump’s professed affinity for each other, some Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham and Todd Young, have criticized what they see as human rights violations in Modi’s India.