The Takshashila Institution hosted fellows from Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) – Dr Indrani Talukdar and Dr Chandra Rekha – for our first ever Russia Interest Group meeting on August 14th.
The day’s proceedings were divided into two sessions, with the first session focusing on Russia’s internal dynamics and the second covering Russia’s engagement with the world.
During the first session, titled “The Internal Dynamics of Russia,” Dr. Talukdar talked about Russian domestic politics and the rise of Vladimir Putin as the country’s preeminent leader. Her presentation also provided insight into the different schools of thought that shape the Russian worldview along with the grand strategy that drives Russian policy. Putin’s foreign policy, she argued, is rooted in an experience of unfairness in the context of the West’s approach towards Russia, following the collapse of the USSR.
That was followed Dr Rekha presenting a detailed account of the development of Russia’s Defense Industrial Complex (DIC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her presentation underscored the significance of the DIC for the broader Russian economy.
The presentations were followed by a Q&A session, shedding light on Russian economic and education policies, the narrative of nationalism in the country, elite politics and contenders for leadership in the future.
The second session, titled “Russia and the World,” began with Dr. Talukdar’s talk on Russia’s engagement in West Asia, along with its relationship with India. She explained that the broad thrust of Russian foreign policy revolves around the goal of crafting a multipolar or multilateral world order. That is the context in which one must view Russia’s relationships with other states. With regard to the bilateral relationship with India, Dr. Talukdar stressed that New Delhi’s relationship with Washington, along with terrorism and diversification of trade remain key issues of concern.
Dr Rekha then focussed on the evolving strategic partnership between Russia and China. She analysed the deepening cooperation between the two countries as predominantly being driven by the desire to counter what they see as US unipolarity. However, in her assessment, what Beijing and Moscow are currently enjoying is a marriage of convenience.
As in the first session, the presentations were followed by a Q&A session, covering a range of issues from Russia’s cyber capabilities, its engagement in the Syrian conflict, the emerging energy policy with regard to the Arctic and the potential trajectory of the bilateral relationship with India.