On his first trip abroad in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled to Fortaleza, Brazil, to join a BRICS summit bringing together the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines, Modi emphasized the depth of Indians’ goodwill toward Russia. Modi told Putin that “even a child in India, if asked to say who is India’s best friend, will reply it is Russia because Russia has been with India in times of crisis.”

That BRICS summit was a long time ago. Today, Modi has drawn India more closely than ever to the United States and the West and is locked in a deepening conflict with China under its President Xi Jinping. That also means Modi now has to manage a more complex relationship with Russia.

All these shifts will be on full view this month. On Wednesday, Modi will host Putin and Xi at the BRICS summit, where the mood is likely to be a…

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