Russia and India made a huge joint announcement on the sidelines of the recent BRICS Summit in Goa, declaring that Moscow will provide New Delhi with an unspecified number of S-400 missile platforms by 2020 at the earliest.

From the looks of it, one could easily rush to the conclusion that Russia has abandoned its rapprochement with Pakistan and is now actively working to undermine both Islamabad and Beijing, but the reality is a lot more nuanced and contradicts this sensationalist assumption.

Russia has been practicing a delicate balancing act between several pairs of rival states over the past two decades since the end of the Old Cold War, selling arms to each of them in order to maintain the strategic balance between them and prevent one side or the other from aggressively tipping the odds in its favor.

Moscow practices this high-level form of military diplomacy with Armenia and Azerbaijan, India and China, and China and Vietnam, so there’s nothing new or groundbreaking in what it agreed to do with India. Russia’s motivation behind this latest move is to maintain the decades-long complex military-technical interdependency that has taken shape with India. The strengthening of this relationship is especially important in the present day as the only realistic means of stemming the speed of India’s pro-American pivot and optimistically even helping to mildly reverse it in some regards if Russia is lucky.

It will take at least three years to fulfill the S-400 order, which is a very long time during periods of pronounced worldwide geostrategic reorientation such as the present one. To put things into perspective, EuroMaidan hadn’t even begun three years ago, so one should consider just how radically different the world might be three years into the future by the earliest point in time by which Russia could conceivably deliver on its end of the deal.

Sometimes arrangements like this one are delayed for a bit due to unforeseen factors, which might be why Russia made it clear that 2020 is the earliest time by which the shipment could be ready, not that it will definitively be sent to India by that time. It’s crucial to keep this small but important detail in mind because Russia’s public deal with India for S-400 missiles opens the gate for the sale of other state-of-the-art technology to China in the near future, which could be timed for delivery to the People’s Republic at the same time as the anti-air units are to India and thus offset whatever perceived competitive advantage that New Delhi expected to attain from its original purchase.

This is the very essence of Russia’s military diplomacy and balancing strategy, but unlike in the past two decades, Russia is uniquely poised to expand this policy from China and India to India and Pakistan, though in a qualitatively different – but structurally similar – way which would still in any case make Moscow an even more influential actor in South Asian geopolitics.

Pakistan is already a huge importer of Chinese weaponry and Russia doesn’t want to interfere with its main international partner’s business dealings, but certain Russian counter-terrorism exports such as small arms, helicopters, and potentially even strike aircraft would actually complement the weaponry that China provides to Pakistan’s conventional forces. Just as Chinese armaments help Pakistan confront conventional Indian aggression, so too could Russian provisions assist it in dealing with the unconventional aspects of this such as RAW-backed Taliban and Baloch terrorism.

Had it not been for the S-400 export deal that Russia agreed to in order to “reassure” India and keep it tethered to the multipolar world order that it’s been drifting away from, Russia wouldn’t be in as comfortable of a balancing position to seriously consider the possible sale of diverse counter-terrorist equipment to Pakistan.

Even though India will be upset and publicly complain either way, all of its theatrics are just Bollywood bluster because billions of dollars of military, technical, energy, and investment deals have already been signed between Moscow and New Delhi and there’s really nothing that India can do now to upset Russia’s South Asian balancing act with Pakistan. The only action that India could realistically take would be to sacrifice its own international reputation by backing out of these already-inked deals, which in that case would destroy the “Make In India” brand and completely undermine the “business-friendly” atmosphere that Modi has been so desperately trying to cultivate.

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Andrew Korybko is Moscow-based political analyst, journalist and a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia. His other areas of focus include tactics of regime change, color revolutions and unconventional warfare used across the world.
  • HARSH V ADITYA ( EX ECHELON 4)

    Wow….so this Andrew korybko is a stooge on Pakistani payroll. This puppet analyst used the same wordings used by Pakistani jihadi intellectuals to describe India.
    Well the purpose of such articles is to show a average Pakistani that look…..we have support in Russia and India is nothing. India is a Bollywood bully.
    This Andrew korybko is just getting published whatever filth is emailed to him by ISI.
    PAKISTAN IS A TERRORIST STATE. PAKISTAN IS A PARASITE ATTACHED TO INDIA.

    • Seemab Suhan

      oh please grow up. to blame ISI for everything is too much and too old. learn something new to blame. yu guys arrested 50 innocent pigeons declaring them ISI agent. I am afraid you educated Indian guys will declare ISI the main cause of not having bathroom in India.

      • HARSH V ADITYA ( EX ECHELON 4)

        Well most Indians do have toilets. And for those who don’t have….we created a very large public toilet 70 yrs back called Pakistan.
        Don’t watch too much of your military dictated media.
        India is far ahead of what you can imagine.
        And wait for peaceful disintegration of Pakistan.

        • toyota Prado

          Really?… is thats why 600M+ indians live under the poverty line?..

          • HARSH ADITYA

            That’s what taught in porkistani jihadi madarsa…..and ranted all day by isi dictated media.

          • toyota Prado

            QOUTE : “That’s what taught in porkistani jihadi madarsa…..and ranted all day by isi dictated ”

            @ Haresh

            Err… no.. I just looked at the figures from the world bank…. there is plenty of information floating you just need to google. It isnt hard.

            the madras in Pakistan teach indians are derived from a monkey race who respond to any conflict by jumping around like a baboon who has been peppered with inching powder up their rear ends.

    • toyota Prado

      Funny, we have the exact same opinion of India. India’s long history of exporting terrorism

      > East Pakistan 1970s – Mukti Bhani
      > BLA > Even the US defense secretary attested this
      > LTTE > Yes India initially armed and trained these terrorists
      > TTP > India arms and finances them via Afghanistan

      I wont even bother to include state terrorism Kashmir, Gujrat, Nagaland where indians burn villages and blame it on others.

      • HARSH ADITYA

        Go fuck yourself porki jihadi mother fucker…..inbred forcefully converted slaves of Arabs.

      • toyota Prado

        @ Haresh

        Your foul and abusive language has been noted. Do note we can respond in kind, however as we are groomed by a superior faith ie Islam we are over and above your likes.

  • Amjad Malik

    What Andrew just said, this is a reality which Indian don’t want to listen. They have two faces, (Muh mein ram bagal mein churi). In english: A honey tongue, a heart of gall. Someone who talks sweetly but had grudges in his heart and tries to betray.

  • Sandya Raju

    Andrew korybko – I have read couple of other articles, He is not a man of substantial knowledge or even if he is one , his intellectual disability prevents his from drawing accurate predictions . To Interpret & make an impression about Current Affairs , one need to know history in the most accurate form , which Andrew always fails(or unaware). China centric ,Pro Pakistan articles will be well appreciated within China or Pakistan but not rest of Asia or even the world .Last time you have rhetorically wrote about the SAARC split – For your Information SAARC is not split , SAARC Just omitted Pakistan completely — Reasons are the same & Common Terror Issues South Asian countries face ! – Its laughable when you self proclaim & self certify your qualifications and other credentials YET unable to “perceive ” reality of terrorism ! What International reputation are you talking about India ? Is it the capability that India have , to access & procure any grade military hardware from any country Including Israel ,US ,France ,Japan and Russia (Which obviously China & Pakistan cant -) -So please get well and realize who is ill of International reputation – Make in India brand will not be destroyed just because you think so – What you know about make in India anyway ?? Make in India will go on as usual with SU-35’s as well as F16’s ,Boeing’s ,Japanese fidgets ,French submarines ,Spanish High speed trains and other German investments in India defense and on and on !! Try better next time to write some quality content with Facts and not just empirical opinions – you discredit yourself by projecting as a ‘Sophist ” which is already a rejected concept in the middle ages !!

    • HARSH V ADITYA ( EX ECHELON 4)

      Absolutey right….he has the same flavour of writing as any other Pakistani jihadi intellectual. He just gets published whatever is mailed to him from Rawalpindi.

  • Adeel Raza Malik

    Everyone just get ready because soon you’ll start smelling something burning here are comments 1 Billion people who dont have washrooms will start flowing here.

  • toyota Prado

    Good analysis, Indians however will not like as they believe what news comes from RSS information desk. In any case it doesn’t matter they cannot change the ground realities, such as the recent exercise with Pakistan’s SSG they tried so hard to have that called off. It dint work.

    What Russia is doing is smart, it always wanted access to Arabian sea and through CPEC it can done so. Islamabad has also changed too and wants a balanced relationship and not the loop sided foreign policy that was so disastrous.