India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is facing a unique diplomatic challenge as it navigates the complex relationships with the world’s three superpowers: the United States, China, and Russia. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has put India in a difficult position, as it risks straining its longstanding friendship with Russia due to growing Chinese influence on Russia and pressure from the United States on India. India has thus far maintained a cautious distance from the conflict, focusing on maintaining its trade relationship with Russia, which has caused concern among Western powers. Russia continues to enjoy strong partnerships with countries like Belarus, China, India, Iran, and South Africa. However, over time, Russia’s increasing dependence on China’s support may potentially strain India-Russia ties. China, which is considered India’s primary adversary, has a close friendship with Russia. The question arises whether China would attempt to undermine India-Russia relations. Moreover, China is India’s largest import source and a significant foreign direct investor, further complicating the dynamics between the two countries.
Despite the diplomatic animosity between China and the United States, it has had minimal impact on China’s global export push, as it remains the world’s largest exporter. China’s trade relationship with India has also been expanding, with India becoming its sixth-largest export destination. India heavily relies on Chinese imports, making any direct confrontation between the two nations a risky prospect for China. China’s diplomatic relationship with India’s key ally, Russia, could potentially be affected if it chooses to antagonize India. Ironically, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has bolstered Russia’s economy and foreign trade, particularly with countries like China, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Belarus. However, the situation could change if the conflict escalates and Russia requires stronger Chinese defense support. Given China’s economic and military prowess as the world’s second-largest economy and third-largest military power, it has established a wide network of partnerships and cooperative alliances with various countries worldwide.