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UK PM To Embark On India Visit-Little Change In New Delhi Stance Expected


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to travel to India for a two-day visit lasting from 21-22 April. When initially planned, the visit was seen as an opportunity to foster Indo-British relations in the aftermath of Brexit, but is now being viewed in the context of India's stance in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

  • There is little-to-no expectation that Johnson's visit will result in a significant change in the stance of the gov't of PM Narendra Modi. So far, India has remained largely neutral in the conflict, continuing to purchase Russian hydrocarbons and abstaining on UN votes condemning Russia's actions.
  • War in Ukraine has much less domestic political resonance in India compared to Europe or North America. India has deep and long-running ties to Russia lasting back to the Soviet era. With important state elections scheduled for later this year, there is little appetite from Indian gov't to become deeply involved in what is viewed by many Indians as a 'European war'.
  • Indian gov't concerned that a decisive shift into the Western pro-Ukraine camp could see Russia deepen ties further with China, leaving India politically and economically isolated in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Best hope for Johnson is that India does not boost the import of hydrocarbons or military equipment from Russia, while continuing to deepen its trade links with the UK. Talks on a bilateral UK-India FTA set to resume next week.

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