Far from being the “Russian-friendly” move that some are portraying it as, India’s false claims to have shot down a Pakistani F-16 and its voluntary initiative to share “evidence” of this with the US are designed to “punish” Russia for its “balancing” strategy in South Asia by giving America’s anti-Trump “deep state” a pretext to ruin the Pakistani-facilitated peace talks with the Taliban (the outcome of which will greatly affect Russia’s strategic security) and signaling to Moscow that New Delhi might purchase more arms from Washington instead unless it “recalibrates” its ties with Islamabad to India’s favor.
Another day, another lie, and this time India purports to have “evidence” in its possession “proving” that it shot down a Pakistani F-16 earlier this week. Pakistan Defence published a piece earlier today titled ”Myth of shot PAF F-16 debunked – Indian Lies Exposed”, which self-explanatorily disproved this latest high-profile propaganda stunt by New Delhi. That in and of itself is significant enough for the author to bring this issue to the wider public’s attention, but there’s actually more to it because India is now proudly bragging about how it voluntarily took the initiative to share “evidence” of its claims with the US. This is significant because it’s not just doing this for matters of simple “prestige”, but rather because it has two geopolitical objectives in mind, both of which would “punish” Russia for its “balancing” strategy in South Asia if they’re successful.
Most immediately, India wants to provoke a worsening of ties between the US and Pakistan at this sensitive moment of bilateral rapprochement over the Afghan end game, which is gradually coming about by Islamabad’s facilitation of Washington’s peace talks with the Taliban. This infuriates India to no end because it stands to lose everything that it thought it could accomplish in Afghanistan since the turn of the century should the US finally withdraw from the landlocked country, hence why it wants to “prove” to Washington that Islamabad “misused assets it may have acquired under the ‘fight against terrorism’ banner in 2008”. Should the US, or at least part of its anti-Trump “deep state”, bite the bait, then the pretext would be set for America to “put pressure” on Pakistan in response and probably end up ultimately ruining the Taliban peace talks in the process.
In the more medium to long terms, India’s own “deep state” hopes that it can further ingratiate itself with its American counterpart through this seemingly obsequious gesture, seeing as how the South Asian state became the US’ first “Major Defense Partner” in 2016 and purchased $15 billion in arms from it between 2007-2017. That number is only set to increase in the coming years after former Secretary of State Tillerson described how his country hopes to expand its military-strategic partnership with India throughout the entire 21st century during a speech at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in October 2017, which forms one of the contemporary bedrocks of American grand strategic planning. It’s not for nothing, after all, that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov warned earlier this week that the US was trying to “contain China” by co-opting India into the “artificially imposed” “Indo-Pacific Region” concept.
In trying to ruin the Afghan peace process by sabotaging the very sensitive state of American-Pakistani relations after presenting supposed “evidence” of its claims that Islamabad “misused” assets that it received from Washington as part of the Pentagon’s anti-terrorist support program, as well as doing its utmost to improve its standing in the eyes of its “Major Defense Partner” so as to receive better deals on forthcoming arms purchases, India is actually “punishing” Russia for the “unforgiveable offense” of treating it the same as Pakistan by offering to host peace talks between them. Russia’s strategic security will be immensely harmed if the US’ Pakistani-facilitated peace talks with the Taliban collapse and trigger an outbreak of violence that catalyzes an exodus of “Weapons of Mass Migration” to Central Asia, while the Kremlin’s coffers will be hit hard if India increases its purchase of American weaponry at Russia’s competitive expense.
Neither of those two predictable outcomes would be incidental, however, since India is well aware of what it’s doing to Russia no matter how much its surrogates might try to plead “plausible deniability”. India’s intent in trying to convince the US that Pakistan “misused” anti-terrorist equipment during the events of the past week is obviously malicious and intended to worsen relations between them, which could expectedly jeopardize the Afghan peace process, just like its obsequiousness is oriented around a desire to reap better military deals from its new “Major Defense Partner”, both of which would harm Russian interests in the short and medium-to-long terms. Russia could stop India from advancing these interconnected scenarios if only it would “recalibrate” its ties with Pakistan to its old partner’s favor, but Moscow has never been one to submit to geostrategic blackmail and therefore won’t back down from its successful South Asian “balancing” strategy.
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.