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NEW DELHI: India’s neutral stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is benefiting New Delhi, analysts said, as the arrival of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday marks the last high-level visit to the Indian capital amid the ongoing war.

Von der Leyen’s trip came days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India, which is the two officials’ first visit to the South Asian country since assuming their respective roles in 2019.

India, which also hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this month, faces growing pressure from Western countries to abandon its neutral stance and join in condemnation of Moscow for his invasion of Ukraine.

Although the war will feature in Von der Leyen’s talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, analysts said the British prime minister’s previous visit showed how India was reaping gains as the West actively strived to keep him away from Russia.

Sujata Ashwarya, from New Delhi-based Jamia Millia Islamia University, said India’s stance on the war in Europe keeps it “at the center of geopolitics”.

“The West is desperate to keep India on the democratic side… What it is having is a geopolitical impact on the world,” she told Arab News.

“India could benefit from Ukraine-linked ‘gold rush’ for Western arms makers.”

Johnson’s visit concluded with a bilateral agreement to step up defense cooperation, while the United States said it would work with India to help the country move away from its traditional dependency. to Russian arms.

“However, none of this looks attractive or sustainable,” Ashwarya added. “International relations based solely on opportunism are doomed to failure…India must take into account its values ​​and its interests. These questions require careful consideration.

As more than half of India’s military hardware comes from Russia, its reliance on Moscow for defense equipment plays a role in its geopolitical position. Sanjay Kapoor, editor of the political magazine Hard News, said the country’s defense preparedness was “critical” because of its “hostile neighbors in Pakistan and China”.

“India is taking advantage of this situation where so many emissaries of western powers are trying to woo India to ensure that it remains part of the Indo-Pacific alliance and the quadruple country,” Kapoor told Arab News, referring to the group of countries. including the United States, India, Australia and Japan.

“It seems that India has succeeded in convincing the United States and the West that their interests are better served in the

Indo-Pacific if India is militarily capable of defending itself against a hegemonic China,” Kapoor added.

As for the EU chief’s visit to India, bilateral relations issues are to be expected linked to “a rewarding partnership that has great untapped potential”, according to Anil Trigunayat, India’s former ambassador to Jordan. , Libya and Malta.

The European Commission said in a statement that climate change, energy and connectivity will also feature in Von der Leyen’s talks with Modi, which are expected to take place on Monday.

“India remains the fastest growing major economy, second market and largest democracy and has established good relations with most countries,” Trigunayat told Arab News.

“He doesn’t believe in a zero-sum game.”


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