This week in Say More, PS talks with Shashi Tharoor, an MP for the Indian National Congress and the author, most recently, of Ambedkar: A Life.
Project Syndicate: You have argued that the Ukraine war has turned India’s “long-standing diplomatic and strategic dependence” on Russia into a serious liability. But many – including India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar – are convinced that the war can strengthen India’s global standing. Have discussions within Indian policy circles about relations with Russia changed since you first sounded the alarm? At the same time, has the war created opportunities that India should be seizing?
Shashi Tharoor: So far, Indians consider their global status enhanced by the Ukraine War, as India is one of the few countries that is being wooed equally by both sides – and succeeding at maintaining good relations with each.
India has dramatically increased its oil imports from Russia – which it secures at a discount – and is reselling some of that oil to the United States, after refining it locally. To many, Russia now looks not like a liability, but rather like a useful partner whose conduct in Ukraine it is in India’s interest to overlook. The US, for its part, has no interest in alienating India at a time when China’s increasing belligerence and “friendship without limits” with Russia remain matters of concern in Washington.