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According to a recent survey, Indians see the US as the second-largest military danger behind China and blame NATO and Washington more for Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine than they do Moscow.

According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult, a US-based global business intelligence organisation, 43% of the 1,000 respondents saw China as the biggest threat. China and India have a long-running border dispute, and since 2020, hostilities have resumed.

The survey found that 22% of respondents ranked the US ahead of Pakistan, India’s longtime archrival, as the second greatest security danger.

“While the world’s two largest democracies would seem to make for natural partners, especially given their mutual mistrust of China, Indians have strategic reasons to be wary of the world’s Western superpower,” according to Sonnet Frisbie and Scott Moskowitz, who oversaw the survey released on Tuesday. “As tensions between Washington and Beijing increase, the Indian public may be worried about getting caught in the middle of a US-China conflict that destabilizes regional security, putting India at risk.”

Despite the South Asian country’s tighter relationship with the US, Australia, and Japan, or the Quad, a coalition of democracies intended to fight Beijing’s economic and military ambitions, the worries expressed in the study about the risks from Washington still exist.

Despite pressure from its Quad partners, India has maintained its neutral stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine, abstaining from voting in favour of UN sanctions while advocating for a diplomatic solution to solve the food and fertiliser shortage brought on by the crisis. Additionally, it has kept buying cheap Russian oil.

According to the survey, 48% of participants said Russia should continue to be India’s preferred supplier of military hardware, compared to 44% for the US, and 60% of respondents wanted the government to keep buying oil from the country. A further 49% favour the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi continuing military drills with the nation.

Due to “deeper historical links with Russia forged during the Cold War and India’s post-independence period than India’s relatively recent relationship with the US,” according to Shumita Deveshwar, senior director of India research at TS Lombard, more Indians blame the US and NATO for the war. Russia is also “rooted in the thinking of the people, and that takes considerably longer to change” as the country that provides India with the majority of its weapons and cheap oil.

New Delhi and Moscow have a long-standing relationship that spans sectors such as defence and security. India is the world’s largest buyer of Russian weapons, and a surge in oil purchases by Asia’s second-biggest importer has helped the Kremlin to maintain exports as it tackles Western sanctions.

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