Russia seeks new strategic alliance

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The Independent Online
SPURRED ON by its ire over Iraq, Russia reasserted its determination yesterday to challenge the muscle of the United States as the world's only superpower by pressing for a three-way partnership with India and China.

Russia's Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov - a fierce critic of the US and British assault on Baghdad - arrived in the Indian capital, Delhi, for a two-day trip, which he began by extolling the merits of a "Moscow- Peking-Delhi" strategic triangle.

India and China, both strongly opposed to the air raids, have long had extensive ties with Moscow and - like Russia itself - are keen to boost their diplomatic standing on the world stage to counterbalance the power of the US. In June, Russia defied a G8 ban on exporting nuclear technology to India and Pakistan - imposed amid an international storm over atomic tests - by agreeing to supply Delhi with two nuclear reactors.

The move angered Washington, but India was delighted, viewing it as evidence that its warm Soviet-era relations with Moscow were rekindled. Russia and China have also been moving closer, aided by a warm relationship between the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, and the Chinese President, Jiang Zemin. Last month, the two men met at the hospital in Moscow where Mr Yeltsin was being treated for his latest bout of illness.