Much has been said about Russia’s reaffirmation that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Kashmir, but practically no one is discussing the fact that Moscow has been silent about China’s official stance that New Delhi’s unilateral move poses a threat to its sovereignty, nor has Russia commentated on Indian Home Minister Amit Shah’s inflammatory statement earlier this month that people “can die” over his country’s claims to Chinese-administered Aksai Chin.
There’s no credible doubt that Russia’s position towards India’s “Israeli”-like unilateral moves in Kashmir is in favor of New Delhi after Moscow twice reaffirmed its decades-long stance that the issue is a bilateral one, which the author analyzed in two pieces over the weekend about how “It’s A Wrong Interpretation That Russia Supported Pakistan At The UNSC” and how “Confirmation Bias Explains The Misportrayal Of Russia’s UNSC Stance Towards Kashmir“. Russia’s approach differs from the one employed by China, which regards the issue as a multilateral one requiring UNSC intervention, and this was addressed by the author in two recent analyses around the same time titled “What Explains Russia & China’s Differing Stances Towards Kashmir?” and “Interpreting Russia & China’s UNSC Stances Towards Kashmir & Crimea“. Both of them also touch upon an earlier piece about how “Alt-Media Is Entering A New Era: Russia & China Divided Over Kashmir” that predicts the emergence of a nascent “narrative competition” between the two.
Those five articles comprehensively cover Russia and China’s differing approaches to Kashmir, yet they don’t address how each Great Power views the differences that they have with one another. That’s because neither of them has made a direct statement in this respect, but it’s the silence of one of them — Russia — that’s the most deafening because of the context involved. Neither Moscow nor Beijing would be expected to publicly comment on their disagreements over Kashmir, but it’s curious that usually outspoken Russia has nothing to say about India’s anti-Chinese threats when its Foreign Ministry regularly makes remarks about comparatively less important provocations across the world than one of its nuclear-armed institutional (BRICS & SCO) partners threatening the sovereignty of the other. This isn’t the author’s own subjective interpretation of events either, but the official position of the Chinese government.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that “China is always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction. This firm and consistent position remains unchanged. Recently India has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law. Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force.” It’s notable that she articulated her government’s stance after Indian Home Minister Amit Shah ominously threatened to go to war with China over his country’s claims to Chinese-administered Aksai Chin, thundering before parliament that “Kashmir is an integral part of India, there is no doubt over it. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it and can die for it.” It’s little wonder then that China is so concerned about India’s intentions to undermine its territorial sovereignty.
Considering that Russia has no qualms about commenting on bilateral issues of significance between the US and Iran such as the Pentagon’s efforts to build a naval coalition in the Gulf, it’s surprising that it’s totally silent about the aforementioned situation between India and China, especially when one would be inclined to think that Russia might try to “balance” between both of them and play the role of peacemaker in mitigating their tensions. The reality, however, is that this issue is much too sensitive for Russia to publicly address since it recognizes that it’s impossible to take a “neutral” position on it given the important territorial stakes involved, and furthermore, it has absolutely no leverage that it could wield behind the scenes to make either of its partners “moderate” their positions and “compromise”. Therefore, Russian diplomacy practices the “selective standard” of commenting on issues of “political convenience” like those concerning the US and Iran where it expects to receive some soft power benefit for doing so while entirely avoiding others such as the latest one between India and China where it knows that the wrong word could ruin time-tested relations.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.