India and NATO

International Apr 12, 2021

Recently the president of Ukraine has asked NATO to speed up its membership process as they believe it is the only way they can stop fighting with pro-Russian separatists. In light of the member nations’ meeting later this year to send invitations to nations for joining the NATO treaty, we will consider what role NATO will play for India.

India has been reluctant to join the NATO treaty for a long time. The major reason for this is that India will bet on its good relations with Russia. India refused NATO during the cold-war times because it wanted to be non-aligned. However, with India’s increasing closeness with the US, Russia isn’t happy. Also, Russia has been showing increased cooperation with China which is not a good sign for India. India has been seeing Europe through the Russian lens. However, the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union demand a new perspective towards Europe, keeping in mind the power this collaboration can bring. India has been neglecting Europe owing to the lack of interest in high-level politics. This has stopped India from taking advantage of the re-emerging Europe.

Nevertheless, as China has been increasing its aggressive movements in the Galwan valley and other border areas, India has to buck up and strengthen its ties with like-minded nations. China spends more than the combined expenses of its neighbouring countries do on the military. In the case of India, it spends three times more. Hence it is very unlikely that these activities would cease any time in the coming years. The US lawmakers have reintroduced a bill, the HR 2123 bill, which treats India as a “Major Defense partner”. Accordingly, India will be called a “NATO ally” if this is passed. Partnering with NATO would not significantly constrain India’s broader geostrategic options. Egypt and Israel are both NATO partners who maintain defence relationships with Russia. Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, and Austria are all NATO partners with long-standing neutralist traditions.

India has been taking steps forward in its foreign policy regarding Europe. Deeping maritime partnership with France, joining the Franco-German alliance, India’s first summit with Nordic nations in 2018, are a few examples. However, India has a long way to go regarding its political policy concerning Europe.

This article has been written by Ritu Katkar for The Paradigm.

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