Quad Plus, which includes Quad countries along with South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam, initiated weekly video conferences since March 20 to discuss the common issues pertaining to COVID-19 pandemic. These discussions have brought Quad back into focus as one of the important groupings in the Indo-Pacific. While the expansion of the alliance to ensure international cooperation to deal with this crisis a step in the right direction, the ultimate objective of countering China’s aggression has been put on the backburner though Beijing has increased its hostility in the South China Sea and Sino-Indian borders.
The US government under President Donald Trump had made an unprecedented move by recognizing Golan Heights as a part of Israel. This move was condemned by many countries as well as the international community. This is because the Golan Heights was captured by Israel from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967. The Golan Heights is highly vital for Syria and Israel, both economically and strategically.
China’s aggressive response to numerous territorial disputes comes at a time when the world is tackling the COVID-19 crisis. Against this backdrop, Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in several locations in eastern Ladakh for the last few weeks. It is evident that the Chinese regime is making use of the crisis to prepare itself for the post-COVID-19 world in which China’s popularity has gone downhill both at the domestic and international levels because of its response to the initial outbreak of the virus. Among these efforts includes its aggressive and illegal takeover of disputed territories and integrating Hong Kong under the totalitarian regime. Efforts must be taken to ensure international cooperation for addressing common issues of concern regarding Chinese aggression.
The strait of Hormuz plays a vital geopolitical role to the point where the US Fifth Fleet guards this strait. But during the recent days, Iran has threatened the safe passage of oil tankers in this strait in response to the crippling unilateral sanctions placed on its economy by the Trump Administration.
Russia has been a time-tested partner of India for a long time now. Relationship with Russia is a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. The bilateral ties, in recent times, have suffered minor drawbacks due to India’s inclination towards the West and Russia’s growing relationship with China. Despite these differences, India-Russia ties remain strong. It can be seen through PM Modi’s visit to Vladivostok to participate in the 20th India-Russia annual summit and the 5th Eastern Economic Forum. Mr. Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Russian Far East and this visit is intended to give “a new direction, new energy, and new speed” to the bilateral relations.