There is something terribly baffling about the way India cannot give up its “obsession” with Russia at a time when Moscow has clearly made its choice and cast its lot with China—the country which has pushed India to the brink of a military conflict and is without doubt the biggest threat to India’s territorial integrity. Even if it is accepted that for the sake of “diplomacy” and “multilateralism” it is necessary for India to attend the Moscow meeting of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation—which also comprises some Central Asian republics, apart from Pakistan!—it is difficult to understand what India achieved by conducting naval exercises with Russia at more or less the same place where it conducted its exercises with the United States just a few days ago, at the Malacca Strait. At least the focus of the US exercise was known—China. It is not known who the focus of this exercise was. Considering Russia’s closeness to China, either out of compulsion or out of willingness, what sort of a message is India trying to send to the world in general and the countries of Quad—and Quad-Plus—in particular? That it cannot be a trusted partner, that it will continue to sup with a country which is arrayed against India’s partners? In this context, take the Russia-Japan relationship for example, where the latter is accusing China and Russia of ganging up against it. In terms of security as well this move does not make sense, especially since there is a serious possibility of “classified” information falling into Chinese hands, and that also about manoeuvres conducted at the Malacca Strait, an area that will play an important strategic role for India in case of any conflict breaking out with China in the Himalayas. Apparently, this has been a matter of concern earlier as well during similar exercises. But in spite of that India goes ahead with Indra 2020! In fact, India is unlikely to stop at this, but may also moot the idea of bringing Russia into the Indo-Pacific scheme of things, even though Russia is clear that it does not have any interest in being part of any such alliance as the Indo-Pacific construct is about containing its “friend” China—and the Russians are right in this regard, however much India wants to spin the Indo-Pacific as being about ASEAN and trade facilitation with that region and beyond. Indian policymakers, in their bid to “woo” Russia, in their bid to make Moscow acceptable to its “foes”, seem to be losing sight of the fact that Russia too is wooing India, but this time to strengthen the RIC bloc—Russia, India, China—which both the Russians and the Chinese are envisaging as patently anti-western and also anti-democratic, the latest push for talks—futile, given China’s intransigence—between Indian and Chinese defence ministers in Moscow being a case in point. What is India doing in that bloc, where anyway China will be the hegemon and in the Chinese scheme of things India a subservient subcontinental power, which is not a threat to China? Thus, the Russians would have served China’s purpose of “taming” India! Is this what India wants? The argument given in favour of continuing with India’s “woo-Russia” policy is the Indian armed forces’ dependence on Russian weapons and platforms—apparently 60% of India’s military equipment is Russian. Surely India has better sense than, to repeat a cliché, putting all its eggs in one basket, the way it did for decades and thus did a great disservice to itself. When the need of the hour is ramping up diversification—apart from speeding up the indigenization of defence manufacturing—India surely can do without increasing its military purchases from Russia. It is not India’s job to prop up Russia’s defence industry, however desperate that country might be to keep one of the mainstays of its economy afloat. Also, Russia has long ceased to be a great power. Its economic might is half of India’s. What does India achieve by hanging on to the coat-tails of a “fading power” for old times’ sake? There is no denying that Russia gave India nuclear submarine technology etc., that the West was not willing to give India. But then those were the days when in the name of non-alignment India had aligned a bit too closely with Soviet Russia. Times have changed. Policy has to evolve in keeping with the times. There is no denying that India’s policy has evolved by leaps and bounds. In spite of that India has this tendency to stay hostage to history. Loyalty is a commendable quality, but only up to a point where it does not start infringing on one’s interests. India is a global power now and has the potential to grow at an unprecedented pace. Loyalty to Russia in actual terms means staying in the shadow of China—it will be about containing India, rather than India contributing to the global effort of containing a malicious and imperialistic power such as China.