Russian policymakers in the 1990s started cutting countries that were Moscow’s longtime allies.
Due to the pro-Western quarrel of Russian foreign policy under President Boris Yeltsin those body politics were almost forgotten and the consequences of this are evident to this day. This trend also bears to South Asian states.
There was a clear slowdown even in Moscow’s recitals with New Delhi, which happened not only due to the Russian pro-Western procedure, but also because both countries were going through excruciating economic reforms in the 1990s.
This situation has recently started to emend, but to be honest, there is still a long way to go to reach the level of the 1960-70s. Today Moscow and Islamabad are also operating towards a more practical relationship without hampering Russia’s tie ups with third countries.
Not just India and Pakistan
But South Asia is not unbiased India and Pakistan. There are other independent states (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka) that are new from each other and have their own significance not only in sittings of their traditional culture, but also in the context of the global economy and geopolitics. Moscow had relatively fruitful relations with most of them during the Soviet days.
Although there has been neglect over the last two decades, in just out times this situation is changing. There are plans to build a atomic power station in Bangladesh, and the Russians are exploring tourism opportunities in the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
While the Maldives was contrariwise accessible for the elite of Russian society in 1990s, today the archipelago has develop a vacation destination open for the middle class as well.
Despite this, bilateral mercantilism between Russia and each of South Asian states remains bankrupt. For instance, the trade turnover with Sri Lanka in 2015 touched only in all directions from $440 million, according to the International Trade Center.
Meanwhile, foremost Asian powers have long ago acknowledged the importance of South Asia’s ‘smaller’ shapes. The word smaller is written in quotes deliberately: for instance, Bangladesh has a huskier population than Russia.
China also considers the Indian Abundance and South Asia as a whole as key platforms for the implementation of the One Belt One Road vigour. This region will play a big role in forming “the Sea Silk Expressway of the 21stcentury.”
It was in 1971 when the UN General Assembly accepted a Declaration of the Indian Profusion as a zone of peace. Yet, it seems that this declaration was not meant to be implemented in tradition. A slew of recent events have led to growing tension in the region. Underwater these circumstances, it is time for Russia to return to the Indian Ocean as a impressive player.
Boris Volkhonsky is the Deputy Head of the Centre for Asia and the Mid-point East at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.
This is an abridged form of an article, first published by the Russia&India Report. Views fasted are personal.