Beijing winter Olympics will be remembered not only for COVID related problems in holding the event but also its political/diplomatic boycott by most of western nations led by USA. Non participation in the only global sporting event, the summer and winter Olympics, due to political constraints must be avoided and reviewed by every nation.
Winter Olympics do not attract as much attention as the summer Olympics for obvious reasons. But 2022 Beijing winter Olympics have garnered as much, if not more, attention than the previously held summer Olympics in Beijing. Reason is elementary. Globe is on the boil.
COVID onslaught worldwide has resulted in nearly six millions deaths in past 24 months (Jan’20-Dec’21). Global vaccination programme led by India has barely touched 50% of nearly eight billion humans.
Global unity to fight the COVID menace should have been an obvious option for all nations. Instead the global turmoil has engulfed virtually the entire comity of nations. Cold War era of early sixties pales into insignificance when compared with the ongoing brazen and open hostilities involving the P-5 nations as well as nations from every continent.
US led offensive against China to prevent it from attacking and annexing Taiwan and Russian intentions to capture Ukraine has created a hitherto inconceivable scenario. Because further escalation in either theatre will invariably result in many other nations, India in particular, getting sucked into unwarranted conflict. Diplomatic negotiations as well as direct military threat has yielded no results towards achieving a probable peace. Nuclear exchange in the event of full blown war in either or both sectors is a distinct possibility.
India’s position is precarious, particularly in the context of Ukraine-Russia faceoff. India’s military is heavily dependent on military hardware/spares from Ukraine as well as Russia. India’s relations with Ukraine, Russia and USA will come under enormous strain. Whatever be the outcome, India’s defence equipment imports from all these nations will be hit to varying degree causing a direct degradation in defence preparedness of India.
India’s ‘all weather friendship’ with Russia will be tested to fullest extent.
It is in this context that proposed visit of Russian President Putin and Pakistan PM Imran Khan to Beijing for attending opening ceremony of Beijing winter Olympics is of enormous significance not only globally but specifically for India.
Both China and Russia have been pushed into the corner by myopic and short-sighted US leadership. Trade war with China, which gained momentum during Trump presidency, has spread its adverse effect globally. Far flung nations viz NewZealand has openly declined to sever its economic relations with China.
Prominent NATO ally Germany has maintained pregnant silence and has declined to chastise Russia for its military build up against Ukraine (read NATO) because Germany wants Russian gas to heat German homes with NORD-2 gas pipeline. US has termed ambiguous German stance as that of an untrustworthy ally.
Fragmentation of ‘Brain Dead’ NATO appears to be inevitable. France is not exactly enamoured by US decision to firstly sign AUKUS treaty and more importantly land a economic body blow to French by forcing Australia to cancel submarine deal. President Macron has been vocal about the ills of American sponsored war with Russia on European soil.
Presidents Xi and Putin will almost certainly discuss the issues related with Taiwan and Ukraine. Will the ‘sporting’ summit at Beijing involve Pakistan as well? Pakistan will be more than willing to join the dialogue between Putin and Xi even at the cost of being a silent observer because it will enhance status of Pakistan. A bilateral meeting with Putin will be of enormous significance.
Imran-Putin meeting with or without China is a distinct possibility. In recent times Russia has warmed up to Pakistan. One of the most significant event is proposal to construct a 1100 km long gas pipe line. Russia will be more than willing to commission the project as it will give a ready market for Russian gas other than west.
Will Putin be willing to discuss military equipment imports to Pakistan? Russia has openly expressed its displeasure to India on cancellation of fifth generation fighter project. Developing bonhomie with USA and import of state of art military aircraft viz C-17, P8i, Chinook helicopter, C-130 etc in recent times have been viewed by Russia with concern. Imran Khan will exploit this opportunity to personally brief Putin on Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan and Russia have not uttered a word on the treatment of Uighuyr Muslims by China and ongoing human rights violations in Xinjiang province.
An extremely important component of Pakistan military has involvement of all three nations. Chinese JF-17s supplied to PAF are facing acute problems due to repeated failures of RD-93 engine of Russian origin. Planned replacement of RD-93 by WS-13, a Chinese origin aero engine is yet to commence. Pakistan may/will seek supplies of RD-93 aero engines directly from Russia. If the deal goes through, it will be detrimental to India’s security interests. Russia has already indicated its willingness to support Pakistan by providing weapons to fight terrorism. What Pakistan will do with such weapons is only too well known.
Can India influence Russia to not provide RD-93 aero engines either directly or through China? Would India be able to convince Russia to not indulge with Pakistan by providing military hardware? On the other hand Russia will be more than willing to go extra mile to wean away Pakistan from US influence. India’s neutrality may no longer be accepted by Russia. Russia and China have been categorical in calling QUAD (USA, India, Australia and Japan) alliance a military alliance.
Gathering of Xi, Putin and Imran may not be in India’s interest. Developing China-Pakistan-Russia axis will be a new and most detrimental development to India’s security concerns. In short term a summit of Xi, Putin and Imran does not augur well for India. Putin’s decision to travel to Beijing in spite of war like situation speaks volumes of the importance of meeting with Xi. Pakistan might be ‘accidental’ beneficiary.
Will COVID come to India’s rescue and force China to cancel holding of winter Olympics? At least temporarily it will impede the evolution of China-Pakistan-Russia axis.
But Kremlin might dash Islamabad's hopes of a bilateral.
About The Author
Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava has served in Iraq and is a graduate of both DSSC and AWC. He was Directing Staff at DSSC and Chief Instructor at College of Air Warfare. He Served at Air HQ, commanded a MiG-21 Sqn and headed the IAF establishment of Strike Corps during 'Operation Parakram'. He has authored a book titled 'Profligate Governance – Implications for National Security'. He has written extensively on international and strategic affairs and Defence Procurement Procedures. The IAF officer graduated from the NDA in June 1970 and trained at AFA with 107th Pilots Course. He can be reached at Email: [email protected]