According to the Times of India on July 11, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar left for Tbilisi on July 9, local time, to commence a visit to Georgia after a three-day visit to Russia. This is the first visit by an Indian Foreign Minister to Georgia since the country’s independence in 1991. As relations between Georgia and Russia are tense, some Indian media believe that S. Jaishankar’s visit is a signal to Russia.
The Times of India reported that at a ceremony on the 9th, S. Jaishankar handed over the bones of the country’s Orthodox saint, Queen Ketvan, to the Georgian side as a sign of friendship between the two countries. The bones were unearthed in the Indian state of Goa in 2016. According to the article, this gesture from the Indian side will enthuse Georgians and may bring a new breakthrough in relations between the two countries. India hopes to make more investments in Georgia in the future, expand trade between the two countries and take bilateral relations to a “new level,” S. Jaishankar said on 10th local time. According to the article, Georgia ranks high in the global ease of doing business index. Georgia is also actively applying for EU membership. If accepted, the country will become another important gateway to Europe for India and give India a firm foothold in the Caucasus.
Currently, India does not have an Embassy in Georgia, but is represented by its embassy in Armenia. There is a view that India is likely to upgrade its diplomatic specifications in Georgia after S. Jaishankar’s visit to Georgia.
It is worth noting that the timing of S. Jaishankar’s visit is very special. He just finished a visit to Russia on the 9th, during which he also said that India-Russia relations are one of the most stable and important relations after World War II. At the end of his trip to Russia, S. Jaishankar flew directly from Moscow to Tbilisi. Some Indian media said that the political implications of S. Jaishankar’s visit cannot be ignored due to the tension between Georgia and Russia, especially since Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went to Pakistan after his visit to India in April, a move that was “unwelcome” in the eyes of New Delhi.
The Deccan Herald further explained that India is “worried” about Russia’s increased cooperation with Pakistan, especially in the defense sector, while Russia is also very unhappy that India is following the US-led “Indo-Pacific Strategy” and upgrading the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue” mechanism. Current India-Russia relations are rather “hot on the outside and cold on the inside.
The Global Times reporter looked up the itinerary of Su Jaisheng’s visit released by the Indian Foreign Ministry and found that the visit to Georgia was not announced together with the previous leg of the visit, but two press releases were issued on different dates. The source said that the Indian side may have done so out of “some respect” for India-Russia relations, so as not to cause “excessive interpretation” by the Russian side.
Some observers believe that since the United States launched the so-called “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, India has been constantly maneuvering between the United States and Russia, but is losing ground. The growing Indo-US relationship has led to increased suspicion and doubt from Russia about India. India’s refusal to renounce the S-400 air defense missile system purchase agreement with Russia has made the U.S. unhappy, so much so that the U.S. has repeatedly pressured India, suggesting that New Delhi must “choose between the U.S. and Russia. At the same time, the border confrontation and tension with China has narrowed the space for New Delhi to manouver between USA and Moscow.