The Sino-Russian Alliance Comes of Age — Part 3

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) signed the statements on the “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era” and on “strengthening contemporary global strategic stability”, Moscow, June 5, 2019 The first part of the three-part essay is here. The second part is here.  Discourse of shared legacies  The … Continue reading “The Sino-Russian Alliance Comes of Age — Part 3”

TikTok, Sing a Song of Sixpence, A pocket Full of Rye, Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in an American Pie

TikTok logo on display, Culver City, California, Aug 27, 2020   The US president Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Saturday that he backs the deal between TikTok owner China’s ByteDance, Oracle Corp, and Walmart to create a new company known as TikTok Global.  It conflicts with Trump’s own earlier order for … Continue reading “TikTok, Sing a Song of Sixpence, A pocket Full of Rye, Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in an American Pie”

Pompeo threatens to light the fuse in Persian Gulf

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz transits the Strait of Hormuz as the flagship of US Carrier Strike Group, Sept 18, 2020 (US Navy photo)  The US Fifth Fleet announced on September 18 that a Carrier Strike Group comprising USS Nimitz passed through the Strait of Hormuz with the guided-missile cruisers USS Princeton and USS Philippine … Continue reading “Pompeo threatens to light the fuse in Persian Gulf”

India’s Quad Dilemma in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (R) greeting the newly-elected Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (L) at the swearing-in ceremony at Kelaniya Buddhist temple in Colombo, Aug 9, 2020 There are three categories of statesmen: those addicted to Twitter (Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Javad Zarif, et al); those who shun it (Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Xi Jinping, … Continue reading “India’s Quad Dilemma in Sri Lanka”

The Sino-Russian Alliance Comes of Age — Part 2

Signing ceremony of The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany: Foreign Ministers of USA, UK, USSR, France, GDR, FRG (from left to right) ; Moscow, September 12, 1990 “I look for the land of the Poles that is lost to the Germans, for the moment at least. Nowadays the Germans have started … Continue reading “The Sino-Russian Alliance Comes of Age — Part 2”

India’s overture to Taliban comes too late

The Taliban delegation at the opening ceremony of intra-Afghan talks, Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020 The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad was roundly criticised by Indian commentators when he last passed through Delhi in May and advised the officials he met with an earthy sense of realism and foreboding that it’s high … Continue reading “India’s overture to Taliban comes too late”

The Sino-Russian Alliance Comes of age — Part 1

Yevgeny Khaldei’s iconic photo of the Red Army soldiers raising the Soviet flag on top of the Reichstag building in Berlin, May 1945.  The joint statements between two countries are usually riveted on a particular event but in extraordinary circumstances involving great powers, it could assume an epochal character and can be viewed as diplomatic … Continue reading “The Sino-Russian Alliance Comes of age — Part 1”

Russia blasts US’ Indo-Pacific strategy

Vietnam’s Dy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh chairs a video meeting with ministers from member countries of Association of Southeast Nations, Hanoi, Sept 9, 2020. The meeting between the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on September 11 took place at a particularly delicate juncture … Continue reading “Russia blasts US’ Indo-Pacific strategy”

An India-China reset is still possible

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (L) and China’s State Councilor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) met in Moscow, Sept 10, 2020 A joint statement wasn’t anticipated after the talks between the External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Moscow on September 10. In diplomatic terms, a … Continue reading “An India-China reset is still possible”

India needs to adapt to the world of tomorrow

Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh: snapshot from 1962 India-China war. Jawaharlal Nehru began his historic “Tryst with Destiny” speech on August 15, 1947 heralding India’s independence, which is considered to be one of the greatest speeches of the twentieth century, with an immortal line, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world … Continue reading “India needs to adapt to the world of tomorrow”

Belarus, Navalny cast shadows on Russia’s ties with EU

Belarusian opposition protestors marching toward the presidential palace, Minsk, September 6, 2020 The Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu disclosed on September 6 on the state television that there has been a thirty percent increase in aerial surveillance on the country’s borders by NATO jets in August as compared to last year. Unlike in the past when surveillance … Continue reading “Belarus, Navalny cast shadows on Russia’s ties with EU”

Homage to Guru and landmark in Kerala’s social history

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (L) announced Kerala’s first open university named after Sree Narayana Guru, Sept 3, 2020    Pinarayi Vijayan’s historical legacy in over five decades in public life will surely have at its epicentre the establishment of an open university named after Sree Narayana Guru. Announcing the decision, Pinarayi tweeted that Gurudevan “enlightened … Continue reading “Homage to Guru and landmark in Kerala’s social history”

What can Russia do to ease tensions in Himalayas?

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (L) and Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe (R) are due to meet in Moscow on September 4, 2020 The legend is that the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, during his pathbreaking visit to India in 1955, was reputed to have told the Indians that all they had to do for … Continue reading “What can Russia do to ease tensions in Himalayas?”

India gains nothing out of ‘Asian NATO’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the keynote address at the annual Shangri La Conference in Singapore on 1st June, 2018. If you are in two minds about the foreign policy orientations of Modi government, what do you do? My answer: Read the lips of the US state department officials. They will give you the authoritative … Continue reading “India gains nothing out of ‘Asian NATO’”

US-Russia tensions flare up on multiple fronts

Russian Su-27 Flanker jets crossing within 100 feet of the nose of a nuclear-capable US B-52 bomber in Black Sea, August 28, 2020 Amidst the escalating tensions with China, the United States should have kept the troubled relationship with Russia on an even keel. But the opposite is happening. For the first time since the presidential … Continue reading “US-Russia tensions flare up on multiple fronts”

Modi and the Abe legacy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation from office on health grounds, Tokyo, August 28, 2020 The earth becomes a lonely planet for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his friend and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe announced his resignation from office on August 28 and began walking toward the sunset. Abe should have been around … Continue reading “Modi and the Abe legacy”

Anatomy of coup attempt in Belarus

Women protestors in Minsk, Belarus, lionised by western media  The Russian President Vladimir Putin disclosed in a TV interview on August 27 that the Americans, amongst others, had fuelled the unrest in Belarus. He explained that the controversial presence of 33 Russian nationals (with military background) in Minsk in the run-up to the presidential election … Continue reading “Anatomy of coup attempt in Belarus”

Trump sets the Israeli cat among Arab pigeons

Iranian military delegation led by Defence Minister Gen. Amir Hatami examining Russian weaponry, Moscow, August 24, 2020 The US President Donald Trump’s legacy in the Middle East is going to be that he scattered the region’s Arab unity once and for all. What the successive waves of Cold War, oil, petrodollar, terrorism, political Islam or … Continue reading “Trump sets the Israeli cat among Arab pigeons”

Turkey reboots Arab Spring with Palestinian resistance

Turkish President Recep Erdogan (C) met a high-level delegation of Hamas led by Ismail Haniyeh (L), Istanbul, August 22, 2020 Turkey has made its first move on the regional chessboard after the recent deal between the UAE and Israel, when on August 22, President Recep Erdogan received in Istanbul a high-level delegation of the Palestinian … Continue reading “Turkey reboots Arab Spring with Palestinian resistance”

US-China decoupling is hard to do

Top US and Chinese officials participated in a scheduled call for a “constructive dialogue” on trade issues, Aug 24, 2020 The cracking sound of ice breaking in the frozen US-China relationship is audible with the two big powers holding a high-level “virtual meeting” on Tuesday to discuss trade and related issues. In spite of everything, the … Continue reading “US-China decoupling is hard to do”

A high-flying US senator warns Modi against Putin

Russian Ka-226T helicopter to be produced under ‘Make in India’ is advantageous in high-altitude environments. (File photo)  The Nikkei Asian Review, well-known for its anti-China reportage, featured an article in the weekend titled India should ignore Putin’s offer to broker accord with China. The author is none other than Marco Rubio, the high-flying Republican senator … Continue reading “A high-flying US senator warns Modi against Putin”

China sees Biden as tough but predictable

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to give his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Chase Center, Wilmington, Delaware, August 20, 2020. Joe Biden’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on August 20 has been widely acclaimed in America and it enhances the growing perception that he is likely to … Continue reading “China sees Biden as tough but predictable”

Iran “snapback” sanctions is a pantomime. Spectacle to watch is Trump-Putin summit.

As expected, the Trump Administration delivered letters on Thursday to both the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and to the president of the Security Council Dian Triansyah Djani notifying them that the United States is initiating the restoration of virtually all UN sanctions on Iran lifted under UN Security Council Resolution 2231.  This process, if successful, … Continue reading “Iran “snapback” sanctions is a pantomime. Spectacle to watch is Trump-Putin summit.”

Israel-UAE deal doesn’t herald a geopolitical formation

Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (C) met with Turkish Minister of Defence Hulusi Akar (R) and Qatar Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah (L), Tripoli, Libya, August 17, 2020  Sweeping geopolitical assumptions are being made regarding the Israel-UAE agreement to establish diplomatic relations. Basically, the deal legitimises a previously existing two-decades old relationship. See … Continue reading “Israel-UAE deal doesn’t herald a geopolitical formation”

Russia takes Europe’s support to calm Belarus

Opposition protests in Minsk, Belarus, Aug 16, 2020 The mercurial Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has not been an easy ally for the Kremlin. But the growing interference by Belarus’ “New European” neighbours is setting the stage for a “colour revolution” with potentially anti-Russian orientation. Poland, egged on by the US, has convinced itself that it … Continue reading “Russia takes Europe’s support to calm Belarus”

Israel, UAE legitimise their relationship

The UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed: Palestinian leadership has accused UAE of ‘stabbing them in the back’ by establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. The controversial peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates has two fathers already — US President Donald Trump and … Continue reading “Israel, UAE legitimise their relationship”

Snapback sanctions on Iran isn’t open-and-shut case

UN Security Council resoundingly defeated a US resolution to indefinitely extend UN arms embargo on Iran, with only Dominican Republic endorsing the American move, New York, 14 Aug, 2020 The Iran nuclear issue moves to centerstage of international security with US President Donald Trump’s remarks Saturday that Washington “will be doing a snapback” against Iran … Continue reading “Snapback sanctions on Iran isn’t open-and-shut case”

We are all Americans!

Senator Kamala Harris, the first Indian-American candidate to make a serious run at the American presidency. (File photo) On several templates, the Democratic candidate in the November election in the US Joe Biden’s choice of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate becomes an extraordinary development. Biden, the consummate politician, has made a thoughtful choice … Continue reading “We are all Americans!”

Trump insists on a Putin visit to US

An undated footage from Russian Defense Ministry Press Service showing an intercontinental ballistic missile lifting off from a truck-mounted launcher somewhere in Russia. The US President Donald Trump’s remark on Monday that a G7 summit is no longer on the cards for the month of September leaves many questions unanswered. We do not know the … Continue reading “Trump insists on a Putin visit to US”

The ‘foreign threats’ to 2020 US election

“The keys predict that Donald Trump will lose the White House this year.” The statement by the Director of the United States National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina on August 7 giving an “unclassified overview of foreign threats” to the 2020 US presidential election selectively focuses on “the ongoing and potential activity” by three … Continue reading “The ‘foreign threats’ to 2020 US election”

Pakistan should show realism on Kashmir

Curfew in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, in anticipation of ‘Black Day’ protests over first anniversary of state’s integration, Aug 5, 2020 India will be keenly watching the outcome of the Pakistani brain wave “to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support … Continue reading “Pakistan should show realism on Kashmir”

Trump lame duck bodes well for international security

Volunteers load free groceries at a community food bank in the Crenshaw neighbourhood of Los Angeles, United States,  in July. (AFP photo)  The commencement of the lame duck period of the Donald Trump presidency is marked by the departure of two high-ranking officials of the US state department in the last two days. Secretary of … Continue reading “Trump lame duck bodes well for international security”

The Wars of the Maps in South Asia won’t have happy ending

The new map of India issued by the government on 2 Nov, 2019 The unveiling of a ‘new political map’ of Pakistan in Islamabad on August 4 marks the aggravation of a bizarre period of South Asian politics that draws comparison with a controversial slice of the medieval history of England known as the Wars … Continue reading “The Wars of the Maps in South Asia won’t have happy ending”

Belarus: Scramble for heart of Europe

An opposition campaign rally in Minsk, July 30, 2020  The Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration Condoleeza Rice once described Belarus as “the last true remaining dictatorship in the heart of Europe.” She held out the assurance that it was “time for change to come to Belarus.” That was during her visit … Continue reading “Belarus: Scramble for heart of Europe”

Shutting the door to China is self-defeating

A closed business in Santa Monica, California. (AFP)  The world economic news through last week must have sent shockwaves across North and South Block where India’s ministries of finance, defence and external affairs — and the Prime Minister’s Office — are located. The post-pandemic world order is knocking on the doors. On Friday, the European … Continue reading “Shutting the door to China is self-defeating”

Australia ‘decouples’ from US China policy

“Shared values but independent thinking”:  Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne (L) & US State Secretary  Pompeo, Washington, Jul 29, 2020 The Asian chancelleries have a great deal to mull over after the extraordinary joint press conference by the US and Australia following the AUSMIN meeting of their foreign and defence ministers in Washington, DC, on … Continue reading “Australia ‘decouples’ from US China policy”

China’s Silk Road of Health appears in South Asia

Chinese medical workers in face masks on a deployment overseas. A virtual meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal on July 27 becomes the third vector of Beijing’s ‘Silk Road of Health’ diplomacy in Asia.  A Xinhua report on the event said China proposed that the four countries should “consolidate consensus … Continue reading “China’s Silk Road of Health appears in South Asia”

Ebb and flow of Iran’s influence in Iraq

Iraqi militia fighters attacked the US Embassy, Baghdad, Dec 31, 2019.  Getting caught between a rock and a hard place is an unenviable situation for a politician. A tragic case in modern times was of Hafizullah Amin, the Cold War era Afghan communist politician who tried to reduce his country’s dependence on the former Soviet … Continue reading “Ebb and flow of Iran’s influence in Iraq”

Bolton forewarns Israel on US policy shifts

Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton said Israel should act now ahead of US election to strengthen its security interests.   The former US National Security Advisor John Bolton is a paradox in some ways — an extreme right winger with working class background, an outlier like Richard Nixon who had to run twice … Continue reading “Bolton forewarns Israel on US policy shifts”

Trump foreign policy enters lame duck period

US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shaking hands after the Helsinki Summit, July 16, 2018 There was a time when President Trump’s personalised diplomacy seemed a hydra-headed phenomenon with tentacles reaching far and wide. He engaged such diverse politicians — from Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong-Un to Xi Jinping and … Continue reading “Trump foreign policy enters lame duck period”

Turkey, Russia take timeout in Libyan war

Parliament in Cairo unanimously voted on July 20, 2020 to authorise dispatch of Egyptian troops on combat missions abroad Just as the Mediterranean air is thick with talk that a military confrontation between Turkey and Egypt is brewing over control of Libya, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Versihinin  flew into Ankara for consultations with his counterpart … Continue reading “Turkey, Russia take timeout in Libyan war”

India isn’t Singapore. It is more like Iran.

Chabahar Port is a ‘win-win’ for Iran, India, Afghanistan – and China The news report in the Tehran Times today that Iran and the Russia-led Iran Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will set up three more working groups on the expansion of trade ties between the two sides should not come as surprise — except to … Continue reading “India isn’t Singapore. It is more like Iran.”

China’s BRI makes entry in post-Covid-19 era

With the rebound of the Chinese economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is on the march again. An Associated Press report from Beijing last Thursday said China is the first major economy to grow since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, recording a 3.2% expansion in the latest quarter following the reopening of factories and … Continue reading “China’s BRI makes entry in post-Covid-19 era”

Pandemic puts India in ‘precarious position’

Poonthura fishing village near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, where community transmission of Covid-19 pandemic is reported. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan publicly acknowledged on Friday that community transmission has begun in certain coastal regions of the state. In essence, Pinarayi ‘declassified’ what must be a ‘top secret’ at the all-India level. The chief minister has chosen to … Continue reading “Pandemic puts India in ‘precarious position’”

Covid-19 renders the ‘Quad’ rudderless

The 15th India-EU Summit in a virtual format, July 15, 2020 Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s virtual summit with the EU leaders on Wednesday would have convinced him that Europe is singularly disinterested in the US rhetoric to ‘contain’ China. Not a single code word for the US’ regional strategy directed against China appears in either … Continue reading “Covid-19 renders the ‘Quad’ rudderless”

The West has no standing on Hagia Sophia

The 6th century CE (532–537) Hagia Sophia cathedral, Istanbul A defining moment came, rather unnoticed, when the foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) held a virtual meeting on July 13 where the group’s relations with Turkey was on the agenda.  The resumption of Muslim prayers in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul came up for … Continue reading “The West has no standing on Hagia Sophia”

Putin had a dream to reset the world order

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center, Jerusalem, January 23, 2020, to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz Moscow has a way of signalling to the White House on critical issues from time to time through public statements calibrated to catch President Trump’s attention. It happens usually … Continue reading “Putin had a dream to reset the world order”

Putin has a dream to reset the world order

Moscow has a way of signalling to the White House on critical issues despite the breakdown in direct communication through TV public statements calibrated to get President Trump’s attention. On Sunday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov transmitted a complicated signal which pointedly called attention to the growing despondency in Moscow that Russian-American relationship lies in tatters. In … Continue reading “Putin has a dream to reset the world order”

EU summit to reboot India’s world outlook

India-EU virtual summit will take place on July 15, 2020 under the shadows of the cataclysmic Covid-19 pandemic. One of the enduring urban legends in modern times is the quip attributed to Henry Kissinger, ‘Who do I call if I want to call Europe?’ Kissinger disowned it subsequently, but the myth lingers on. Europe is … Continue reading “EU summit to reboot India’s world outlook”

India shouldn’t align with Five Eyes

The Five Eyes has been in the vanguard of Hong Kong protests Against the backdrop of border tensions in Ladakh, the Indian media narratives have ascribed to our foreign-policy lurch toward the Quad and the overall tilt to the US, the breakdown of mutual trust in India-China relations. Chinese statements have repeatedly expressed regret that … Continue reading “India shouldn’t align with Five Eyes”