One of the most unexpected outcomes of Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine has been India’s rise as a Eurasian Great Power. Delhi decisively intervened to become Moscow’s irreplaceable valve from Western pressure, one which preemptively averted the Kremlin’s potentially disproportionate dependence on Beijing in these newfound difficult conditions and thus mutually strengthened Russia’s and India’s complementary strategic autonomy. That was a game-changing development that significantly altered the course of the New Cold War in its opening stages, thereby greatly influencing the grand strategic trajectory of all key players going forward.
Doubts about India’s geopolitical loyalties have been put to rest once and for all: this civilization-state puts its own interests first according to Minister of External Affairs Jaishankar, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that it advances its interests at others’ expense. Rather, India aspires to maintain equidistance between the US-led West’s unipolar liberal-globalist (ULG) world order and the jointly Russian- and Chinese-led multipolar conservative-sovereigntist (MCS) one. The first-mentioned shares India’s interests in “managing” China’s rise while the second aligns with Delhi’s determination to gradually reform International Relations so that they’re more equal, just, and stable.
Nothing’s changed in regards to India’s ties with the ULGs since it still participates in the Quad but what’s noticeably different over the past few months is the role that it’s playing in the MCS’ efforts to integrate the Eurasian Heartland. The North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) between itself, Iran, and Russia (with Azerbaijan representing the continuous land route between them while the Caspian Sea is the alternative maritime one) has become Moscow’s only viable logistics corridor to the global economy according to that country’s Transportation Minister late last month. This geo-economic fact grants India, the southern anchor of the NSTC, unprecedented importance to Russia and thus the rest of Eurasia.
Not only that, but their shared Iranian partner has also become India’s gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia, the first of which this South Asian state recently dispatched its diplomats to hold their first formal meeting with the Taliban since that group returned to power in August while the second is increasingly falling under its Chinese rivals’ economic sway. Russia expects that India’s Iranian-facilitated access to Afghanistan will serve as the springboard for Delhi geo-economically balancing Beijing in this larger region so as to enable Moscow to maintain its traditional influence there, especially given the exciting potential for joint projects.
If the reader takes a quick glance at the map, they’ll see that these two Iranian-transiting geo-economic corridors encompass a broad swath of the Eurasian Heartland, which speaks to India’s growing influence within the supercontinent. This wouldn’t be possible if Iran didn’t cooperate closely with India to that end with Russia’s blessing. These three Great Powers realize how much they need one another during this pivotal moment in the global systemic transition to multipolarity whereby International Relations is presently in what can be described as a bi-multipolar intermediary phase that’s characterized by the American and Chinese superpowers exerting the most influence over the world system.
Russia, India, and Iran don’t want to become either of those two’s “junior partners”, instead seeking to jointly create a third pole of influence within this evolving order, ergo their close cooperation with one another since the onset of Moscow’s special operation and the US-led West’s unprecedented sanctions in response. The lynchpin in this paradigm is Iran, without which the ambitions of its much more influential nearby Great Power partners would be impossible to actualize. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to Foreign Minister Abdollahian’s trip to India next week, during which time he’s expected to hash out the details of their trilateral geo-economic strategy for integrating the Eurasian Heartland.
The public might not be privy to the full outcome of his visit, but nobody should doubt that it’ll be one of the most important Iranian-Indian diplomatic engagements in years considering the global context in which it’s occurring. None of this is to dismiss the importance of China and Turkey in the Eurasian Heartland’s integration through their Middle Corridor, but just to point out that the People’s Republic isn’t the only one in the driver’s seat anymore. Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) will always remain one of the most powerful vehicles of multipolarity but it’s now no longer the only one since the NSTC and its complementary Chabahar Corridor are turning India into a Eurasian Great Power too.
It’s this trend, more so than anything else that’s unfolded since the New Cold War dramatically heated up following the commencement of Russia’s special operation, that stands as one of the most unexpected developments in recent months. It’s difficult to overstate exactly how important this is too since it’s occurring at the beginning of a new phase in the global systemic transition, which means that its impact is far more significant than if this was all just taking place gradually. Few have yet to acknowledge the role that India’s poised to play in the Eurasian Heartland’s integration, but the sooner they do, then the sooner they can contribute to helping the world better understand this pivotal trend.
By Andrew Korybko Via https://oneworld.press/?module=articles&action=view&id=2943