Ukraine: Any Reason why India should abandon Russia and Join the US bandwagon?
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Issue Net Edition | Date : 10 Jun , 2022

A rejoinder to an article titled “India’s Last Best Chance’ by Lisa Curtis

I am not too sure if Lisa Curtis, a very respected author, was taken in by the US Information campaign launched to go alongside the Ukraine war or if she wrote the article ‘India’s Last Best Chance’ deliberately to mislead public and influence opinion. Irrespective of the reason, the distortions are far too many to be ignored and the record must be set straight.

Facts and References

US promised Gorbachev at the time of reunification of Germany in 1990 and 1991 that NATO will not expand eastwards. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO’s expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was a solemn assurance that is being denied today.

A look at the declassified US, Soviet, German, British and French documents posted by the National Security Archive at George Washington University brings out  the truth. (Documents 05 and 06 clarifies US’ stand that NATO will not expand eastwards) Though the assurances were verbal, do we take it that the verbal assurances of the US Presidents and very senior officials of the US administrations are worthless and are not to be trusted?

NATO’s enlargement relates to US’ post-Cold War grand strategy. US aim is to maintain its global primacy, consequently, it suits US to perpetuate Europe’s dependence on US for its security. It is for this very reason that the US constantly projects Russia as an aggressor and a threat to Europe.

US may find it inconvenient to agree to the verbal promises made by its Presidents and senior officials but what about the documents signed by the leaders of all the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe(OSCE) states including the US President?

The OSCE Summit Declaration (Istanbul, 18 and 19 November 1999) and Astana Commemorative Declaration Towards A Security Communitysigned in December 2010 are a matter of record. Are implementing international agreements dependent on the convenience of countries? US acted in a similar way by unilaterally withdrawing from the ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ (JCPOA), an international agreement signed by the P-5 +1 and Iran in 2018, three years after its implementation. 

Just to remind, “The Astana Declaration,2010, states “We reaffirm the inherent right of each and every participating State to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance, as they evolve. Each State also has the right to neutrality. Each participating State will respect the rights of all others in these regards. They will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other States. Within the OSCE no State, group of States or organization can have any pre-eminent responsibility for maintaining peace and stability in the OSCE area or can consider any part of the OSCE area as its sphere of influence. We will maintain only those military capabilities that are commensurate with our legitimate individual or collective security needs, taking into account obligations under international law, as well as the legitimate security concerns of other States.” (Emphasis added)

Coup and Regime Change

In 2014, consequent to the disturbances in Ukraine, at the peace talks involving foreign ministers of Poland, Germany and France, Yanukovych, the then president of Ukraine had agreed to the conditions that were settled during the peace process and give up power. The aim was to ensure peaceful changeover of the leadership through democratic process.

The then US President in a telephonic conversation had requested Putin, to support the process. Notwithstanding the peace talks, the telephonic conversation between the two Presidents and its outcome, what followed was a coup that installed Zelensky as the Ukrainian President.  US involvement (Victoria Nuland) in the regime change exercise is a matter of record.

Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be viewed in isolation ignoring US’ thirst to remain the global hegemon resulting in continued hostility to Russia wherein the contours of efforts to isolate and disintegrate the country and to bring about a regime change were clearly discernable.

Did US not act in a similar way in the 1980s, assembling terrorists as its proxies through Pakistan to disintegrate USSR? NATO’s eastward expansion to close in with Russian borders and the promise for Ukraine’s assimilation in the NATO, a military alliance, coupled with unprecedented arming of Ukraine, only confirmed US intentions.

At no time has Russia or its actions given an impression that Russia was trying to re-create its erstwhile empire. Detailed analysis reveals that Russia has neither the capability nor the intentions to invade Europe. Narratives projecting Russia as an aggressor with intentions to invade Europe are the fertile imagination of the Western story tellers.

US Interference in Bilateral issues

Ukraine is not a part of NATO. US has no treaty obligations to defend or militarily support Ukraine. If Russia attacking and occupying Ukraine is a threat to NATO, so is NATO and its member state US occupying and arming Ukraine a threat to Russia. Being too far away, Russia-Ukraine dispute doesn’t affect US’s security in any way. Why then is US interfering in a bilateral dispute and pumping weapons into one side of the warring nations? Is this not interference in bilateral issues of countries?


The article talks of Russia’s reckless behavior setting precedence in other parts of the world. Why have we ignored US’ unilateral actions in Yugoslavia in 1999 during the Kosovo war when the country was attacked without any authorisation, US attack on Iraq based on false intelligence inputs resulting in the murder of Saddam Hussain, US attack on Syria and the ‘Regime Change ‘exercise in the country employing terrorists of sorts asproxies? What about Afghanistan? Did these actions set a precedence or Russia’s attack on Ukraine? Are these, parts of ‘Rule Based Order’ which US keeps talking about? Excepting in Syria how many places did Russia attack and without authorisation?

Logic of Russian Attacks

Russia’s Black Sea fleet is located in Sevastopol, Crimea. When a US nominated leadership (Zelensky) through ‘regime change’, with its inherent intentions to contain Russia takes over Ukraine, whose part Crimea was, is it militarily acceptable for Russia to leave Crimea under Ukrainian rule? Would US or any other country done otherwise? But US uses Crimea as a stick to beat Russia and to project the country as a habitual aggressor.

Despite three decades of pleading by Russia under Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Putin the West has failed to address Russia’s security concerns which are existential. On the other hand, what threat did Russia pose to US or to Ukraine? Would the Ukraine war have taken place had US been reasonable and was really interested in peace by addressing Russian Concerns? 

What options did Putin have in the face of NATO’s expansion and Ukraine becoming a US proxy and a base for containing Russia? What is it that US want of Russia? Surrender? It thus became incumbent on Putin to force security guarantees through the threat of war from the West to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of Russia. It was then that Putin decided to mobilise his forces to the Ukraine borders to indicate that he meant business.    

Even at that stage Putin wrote to Biden seeking legally binding guarantees that it seeks from the West specifying Russia’s demands besides forwarding a eight point draft treaty to US on December 17, 2021 which its Foreign Ministry released to the press so that US doesn’t deny Russia’s efforts to seek peace. Shouldn’t US have followed up on that communication and held necessary negotiations if it was interested in peace?

The article talks of ‘Russian atrocities. What about the brutalities by US and the West in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yugoslavia etc. both by their own troops and their proxies? Are they any less? Were they authorized? Was an enquiry on these atrocities conducted and the guilty punished? What gives US the moral authority to question Russia with its own appalling record of wrongdoings in various wars that it initiated without authorisation? 

India Bashing

The article exposes lack of understanding of India’s position with regard to US and Russia relations and goes on to say “Washington’s patience is not endless, and the longer Russia prosecutes its war without India changing its position, the more likely the United States will be to view India as an unreliable partner.” That indicates, US attempt to dictate the type of relations that India needs to maintain with Russia, a third country. Is this the type of free world and democracy that US is preaching? Such statements and dictates are unacceptable to the people of India, a country that represents 229 million people. If US decides to view India as an unreliable partner, it is most welcome to do so. 

India’s relations with Russia are decades old. In 1971 during the Bangladesh war, US had threatened India by dispatching its Task Force 74 led by ‘USS Enterprise’ assembled from US Navy’s ‘Seventh Fleet’ that was deployed in the Bay of Bengal. A British Naval group headed by the aircraft carrier ‘Eagle’ had moved closer to India’s territorial waters in the Arabian Sea. Both US and UK had planned a pincer move to intimidate India.

At that critical moment It was the USSR which came forward to India’s rescue by signing the ‘Peace and Friendship Treaty’ and deployed two groups of cruisers and destroyers as well as submarines armed with nuclear war heads to counter American and British Naval threat to India. The question is, should India now abandon Russia and join US? What for? India is not an ungrateful nation. 

The article suggests “ultimately New Delhi will have to pick between Russia and the West” indicating immaturity. The article also labels India an “outlier” as it takes an independent path not followed by US, Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan. Is following the path of these countries, a part of the ‘rule-based order’?

In a free world, is there anything wrong in a country choosing a course of action that suits its interests the best? I may like to add that India’s relations with countries such a China, US, Russia, Pakistan, Japan, Australia etc. has nothing to do with their relations with one another or with third countries. Relations are based on national interests and values that India cherishes. 

The article talks of India increasing its purchases of oil and liquified natural gas from Russia on the so-called spot market at reduced prices. What about the oil and gas purchases of European countries from Russia? The question is, has UN sanctioned Russia, banning countries from purchasing commodities from Russia? Which is that ‘rule-based order’ that prohibits countries from purchasing oil or gas from Russia?

US may decide to purchase anything from Russia or for that matter from any other country but who has given US the authority to impose its dictates on other countries on purchases that they wish to make, that they need and suits them for which they pay for with their own money? Does US realise the impact of its cold-blooded sanctions imposed on the people of the countries concerned such as Iran, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen etc. which includes women, innocent children and those suffering from serious health issues? Can we call these fair or a part of ‘rule-based order?’    

US wants New Delhi to turn to other military suppliers failing which the article says it will become more difficult for the US to increase its transfer of sophisticated defense technologies to New Delhi. Pray tell us which are those sophisticated defence technologies that US has transferred to India till date? Suggest compare them with those transferred by Russia to India. It may be an eye opener.

On India’s purchase of S-400 air defense system from Russia, India is being threatened with restrictions on access to US loans from US financial institutions and prohibitions on bank transactions subject to US jurisdictions, among other sanctions. Is this the way a world leader is expected to behave? Does India need US permission to purchase weapon systems for its national security with its own finances? Is this what we call a free world that US keeps preaching? 


US has not been a reliable and a trustworthy partner. Take the case of Pakistan which it exploited to assemble and train terrorists and to create Taliban, a terror outfit to disintegrate USSR. The so called ‘front line state’ was totally abandoned after the war was over. The country is now saddled with a huge band of terrorists threatening its very existence. It went back to Pakistan when it needed its support to supply its troops in Afghanistan. US President decided not to talk to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan after Biden was elected President. Now US seems to be hobnobbing with Pakistan again perhaps to use it as its instrument in its larger geo-political game.

Take the case of Afghanistan. It decided not to include Afghanistan Government in its talks with Taliban on the future of the country and abandoned Ghani Government abruptly, only to hand over the country, a UN member state, to a terror group after three decades of its occupation. A clear breach of trust. Why was US deciding the future of Afghanistan? Is it not interference in the internal affairs of a country?

In Ukraine, US kept promising Zelensky of its support and kept amassing weapons into the country besides forcing NATO countries to do the same but when it came to the actual fighting, it left Ukraine to fight its own battle and remained on the side-lines besides constantly goading Zelensky to continue fighting despite its losses and destruction. Europe was dragged into its sanctions game causing power shortages and economic issues. Isn’t US fighting its war with Russia using Ukraine and Europe? Is US targeting Europe’s economy by forcing it to implement its sanctions on Russia,  to perpetuate its dependence on US and to keep them under its control? It is only time will tell.

Doesn’t past precedence give enough indication that US will abandon India once its usefulness to its needs is over?      

Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left

19 thoughts on “Ukraine: Any Reason why India should abandon Russia and Join the US bandwagon?

  1. Thank you very much for calling the 1971 war close approximation of it’s true name bangladesh war as it was the Bangladeshi war of independence and there is no two ways about it. We r grateful for Indian help but calling it India pakistan war demeans our sacrifice.
    A very good analysis btw

  2. Excellent. The Soviet Union, and later Russia, were actually always proponents of peace whereas US always wanted war. It is America’s raison d’être. Even attempts to end the Cold War in the 50s were stopped and countered by the US. Aside from many books pointing to this, here is an interesting paper confirming Soviet Peace initiatives and America’s rebuff.

  3. Year 2025
    Next steps of Russia, in crisis, after lost war:
    – strong bounds with China, they will be a China state
    – China will take over first India, like they already did. Russia will support China.
    – Different than in Sino-Indian War, where US don’t want to suport India (Russia did and this is why Russia is now “friend”), US will support India against China.
    – Peace between US and China will cost Russia part of its territory.
    – China/RU/NK will play agains rest of the world

    Articles like this just confirms this narration, as “leaks” tread that India will have no choice, other that join to US allies. This same way like Baltics are doing now.

  4. An excellent analysis of the US hypocrisy and duplicity. I hope India will never be intimidated by the US. Russia has been a true friend of India for a long time. I did not know about the help it provided during the Bangladesh war.

  5. 1. Defense strategy is not “Principle Based” or “Principle lead” but “Threat Based”.
    2. This must be true for any super power (or for that matter any power) and to expect the single super power would behave differently in this unipolar world would be foolhardy at best and unrealistic at worst, to say the least.
    3. It is our immaturity to even argue from this point of view.
    4. It is never anybody’s case that the US strategy / choice of actions have ever been principle based. History proves this. No elaborate arguments are needed for this.
    5. In fact, it is our process of maturation that we did not stick to a “principle based” strategy but based on our fleeting interest in the world geopolitical landscape at any point in time.
    6. “US has not been a reliable and a trustworthy partner” is a forgone conclusion and does not require any lengthy justification / arguments especially so considering the US the sole superpower in a unipolar world.
    7. The alignment of US and Indian interests is more governed solely by the rise of China and not based on any apriori stated principles of strategic relation between two independent nations/powers.
    8. The only bet we have against the rising China is USA and not likely to be Russia and that alone should govern our strategic interest in choosing friends and not outmoded loyalties to Russia and it’s tyrant.
    9. We may have to dump the traditional loyalties and learn to accept the ground realities.
    10. None of the super powers will risk a world war in any support to any one including us in any limited sphere. Accept this reality and not bitch about it if you are pragmatic/ realistic. Accept the way the world works!
    10. Building a case against USA based on their historic behavior (atrocious as it has been in not just our view but as per their own analysts and opposition at any time) is not the need of the hour if we are pragmatic.

    • Let us be pragmatic then, Chandra, and stick to realpolitik.

      While conceding that past behavior is not an accurate guide to future performance, it would be foolish not to take geo-historical patterns and precedents into account. And the facts are clear.

      Since the birth of Russia in 1991, they have been very much in accordance with the rule of international law, with two glaring exceptions. These two, South Ossetia / Georgia and Ukraine, were forced on them by US-sponsored actions; the last one including political, kinetic and biological weapons.

      Since the end of WW2 the USA has initiated 30 conflicts, and has consistently shown itself to be unreliable and untrustworthy in the observance of treaties and agreements of any sorts.

      Moreover, the de-dollarization currently underway in approximately 2/3 of the world is already creating internal economic tensions which, together with growing ethic and political tensions, may very well lead to secession and civil war.

      India would be foolish indeed to cast its lot in with a declining, fractious and therefore unpredictable power.

      I am an inhabitant of the USA and there are still many good things to say about it, but it will not be a good partner for India going forward.

  6. In Ukraine, US kept promising Zelensky of its support and kept amassing weapons into the country besides forcing NATO countries to do the same but when it came to the actual fighting, it left Ukraine to fight its own battle and remained on the side-lines besides constantly goading Zelensky to continue fighting despite its losses and destruction.
    Will you hold the same view if India, God forbid, had to defend itself against its two enemies on the northern and western borders? Please note that Ukraine was not admitted into NATO and hence article 5 could not be invoked and hence the supply of arms and other aid. Did you raise objection when US intelligence shared information on Chinese movement pre-Galwan and post-Galwan? Or when they supplied howitzers M-777? (In July 2020, in the wake of escalating tension with China in light of hostile Chinese posturing, particularly on the border between the Union Territory of Ladakh and Chinese-occupied Tibet, further purchases of Excalibur shells were announced by the Indian Ministry of Defence). Should the US be accused of adding fuel to the fire by the supply of these weapons?

  7. The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security was entered into between NATO and the Russian Federation,” in May1997
    The member States of NATO and Russia proceed on the basis that adaptation of the CFE Treaty should help to ensure equal security for all States Parties irrespective of their membership of a politico-military alliance, both to preserve and strengthen stability and continue to prevent any destabilizing increase of forces in various regions of Europe and in Europe as a whole. An adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty should also further enhance military transparency by extended information exchange and verification, and permit the possible accession by new States Parties. “The Act has no impact on NATO enlargement. That process is proceeding on schedule; NATO leaders at the Madrid summit in July will extend invitations to the first countries to begin accession talks. Those countries admitted will have the full rights and responsibilities of Alliance membership, and the door to membership will remain open to all emerging European democracies.”
    Does the author have to comment on the historical facts mentioned aforesaid?

  8. The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances comprises three identical political agreements signed at the conference of Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Budapest on 5th December 1994 to provide security assurances by its signatories relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Memorandum prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The signatories were to seek immediate Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, Belarus or Kazakhstan if they should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used. Under the terms of the Memorandum, Ukraine agreed to relinquish its nuclear arsenal which it had inherited from the Soviet Union and transfer all nuclear warheads for decommissioning. In exchange, Ukraine sought legally binding guarantees from the US that it would intervene in the event of breaches of Ukrainian sovereignty. However, the US was not willing to commit and accede to Ukraine’s request, Kyiv agreed to settle for somewhat weaker politically binding “security assurances” to respect its independence and sovereignty which guaranteed its existing borders.

  9. Shocking that the Indian veterans community actually supports the naked aggression of a modern day Hitler because of their deep-seated hatred for the US and its support for Pakistan during the height of the Cold War and in particular the 1971 War. The author needs to be reminded that the Soviet Union was merely pursuing a policy to counter the US and India benefitted incidentally.

    Now coming to the article itself: Starting with the famous phrase “not one inch eastward”; James Baker did state it at that time. Most important is at the relevant time, all countries of East Europe were members of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union had not been dissolved. The then foreign minister of the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze maintained that no commitment on the eastward expansion of the Atlantic Alliance into Central or Eastern Europe was made during the talks on German reunification since all of them were members of the Warsaw Pact and had substantial Soviet forces stationed on their soil and President Gorbachev didn’t even contemplate seeking a provision that would bar any other Warsaw Pact countries from eventually pursuing membership in NATO. In a 2014 interview, Gorbachev also stated that the decision to expand NATO into the east was a “violation of the spirit of the statements and assurances made to us in 1990.” However, in the same interview, Gorbachev said that the topic of NATO expansion was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years.

  10. Well written & to the point.
    I think India should stay course.

    Perhaps aircraft deal to USA for the Carrier only , could be reasonable for smoothness of Quad intiative for foreseeable future.

    Russia & France have been trusted friends historically.

    Rest, very difficult & trying times but India is managing to walk the right path.

  11. Either go on Russian side or US side

    A) Russia is a age old tested friend .But due Russia division & poor economy much cannot be expected in short terms from Russia . But Russian Ukrainian is Right approach for Russia

    B) US.. Has it’s own interests:
    Major elements of the conquest and world domination strategy by the US refer to:
    I) the control of the world economy and its financial markets,
    Ii)Taking over of all natural resources (primary resources and nonrenewable sources of energy).
    The latter constitute the cornerstone of US power through the activities of its multinational corporations.
    Iii)North Korea is an eye sore for US.
    IV) China & North Korea closeness is a threat to US.
    V) Russia is another worry for US.. following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total.
    5)Now gains to US with Indo US agreement.

    In case of war between NK+China + Russia with US & NATO

    A)Home front of US will be far away from war zone
    B) US will have base near to Russia to contains Russia
    C) China & North Korea main thrust will be on US but US sitting next door in India will give jolt & strategic planning perforce will be changed.
    D) US has severe skilled military manpower crunch.Indian forces can off set this with alliance.
    E) Destruction will be in Asia & US will be in safe heaven.
    F) Replenishment to war machinery will be easy due to Make in India at a low cost as labour is cheap in India.
    G)US strategies will become Aggressive for Russia/ China/NK.
    H) Ready made infra of India will be available to US & additional can be built at low cost.
    I) A win win situation for US
    6)Now gains to India with US Indo US agreement.
    A) Quick short term gain for safety & security of nation. War machinery deficiency to some extent will ease.
    B) Pak will be on its toes.
    C) China & NK will not have free hand in expansion.
    D) Relation with Russia may dilute.
    E) Small neighbouring nation will revert back to

  12. Putin’s stated goal of the war is to take back what is Russia’s, just like Peter the Great. He denies Ukraine is even a country. Plus he says the real problem problem is all the ‘Nazis’ he’s ‘demiliterizing’. This is about a ruthless autocrat in Russia afraid of a democracy forming in Ukraine, not NATO or the West.

    • I am shocked by this article; it is nothing short of idiotic! To think that veterans like this author actually served in the Indian Army itself is shocking. They, through this nonsense are actually justifying an invasion. BS!

    • The stated goal is not “ to take back what is Russia’s”. It is to ensure its sovereignty & territorial integrity” by ensuring that areas adjoining Russian borders are not occupied by NATO elements, a Mil alliance & its Black Sea fleet is not threatened. Russia has not crossed the Dnieper river till now. Other cities attacked are military decisions to secure & facilitate its operations & not to capture & hold ground.

  13. National interest is not served by whataboutism but a clear hard look at what the country gains and from whom in the present circumstances.
    China is our enemy No1 and no amount of semantics can change that. If Russia had to chose between supporting the Chinese or us, there is absolutely no doubt which way they would go.
    In these circumstances we are refusing to shed outmoded thought processes at the cost of blood that our soldiers will sacrifice. But then we can afford to be foolish because our kin will not be involved, mostly because they are making good in the US.

    • Ignoring the tenet of Arthashastra “An enemy’s friend is our enemy, not our friend” Russia is a friend and junior partner of China, an arch-foe and cannot be considered our friend merely because of the assistance rendered in 1971.

More Comments Loader Loading Comments