Resurgent Russia Joins Great Game in South Asia

With joint military exercises, weapons sales and multilateral conferences, Russia is reclaiming a role as a key powerhouse in Central and South Asia that it held during the Cold War. With a more isolationist administration in Washington, Moscow is also joining with China to fill a power vacuum in South Asia. “In recent years India has grown concerned about Russia’s growing closeness to China and especially the overtures to Pakistan,” notes Harsh V Pant. “Any new power equation in the region will have long-term implications.” The new strategic relationships provoke the ire of India – a strong ally for Russia during the Cold War that has since improved relations with the United States. Indeed, India is troubled by Russia’s recent decisions to appease extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan – initially hosting a conference on Afghanistan’s future with only Pakistan and China while excluding Afghan and US representatives. Additional countries were invited to subsequent meetings, but Russia has established itself as a leading powerbroker for Afghanistan’s future. Russia has a dual goal of constraining US influence while expanding its own, and Pant predicts that “regional theaters like South Asia are likely to face the brunt of this geopolitical competition.” – YaleGlobal

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