Turkmenistan and India are neighboring countries located in the regions of Asia, with the potential for multifaceted development of their relations. The ties between the two countries are shaped by security, energy, and corridors. This situation creates a strong win-win relationship between the parties. Indeed, Turkmenistan’s energy resources and India’s increasing economic power are the most important factors in strengthening the relationship between the two actors.
Due to the escalating tensions in world politics and attacks by various terrorist groups, security is among the main topics in the relations between Ashgabat and New Delhi. It can be said that both states have adopted a similar approach during the United States’ withdrawal process from Afghanistan. As Ashgabat administration has a Permanent Neutrality Status and embraces a secular understanding in its governance, it has tried to strengthen its relations with Afghanistan from a pragmatic perspective. During this process, Turkmenistan has sent humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to end the crises and prevent various threats from gaining ground.
Initially, New Delhi did not support the U.S. withdrawal, but later, it established contacts with the Taliban in a pragmatic framework and sent various humanitarian aids to the country. Nowadays, both states aim for the neutralization of radical elements in the region, the establishment of an inclusive governance in Afghanistan, and the involvement of Afghanistan in various projects.
On the other hand, when it comes to India and Turkmenistan, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project (TAPI) comes to mind. TAPI is an energy project that will connect Central Asia with South Asia. Within the scope of this project, Turkmenistan plans to transfer a significant amount of natural gas to India. Both the administrations of Ashgabat and New Delhi want this project to be implemented as soon as possible, and the strong connection established through energy will contribute to a robust win-win relationship. In this context, the security factor is of great importance. One of the countries that the TAPI passes through is Afghanistan, and the security of this country will contribute to the economic and energy security of Turkmenistan and India.
Another important aspect in the relations between the parties is corridors. As is known, it is important for India that the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) becomes operational. India aims to reach Russia and European countries through the INSTC, thus accessing both the European markets and Russia’s energy resources through a shorter route and at a lower cost. By acting with a global vision, India will accelerate its process of evolving into a significant power. In this regard, Turkmenistan is located on one of the three routes of the INSTC in the Caspian region. Additionally, within the framework of the INSTC, Ashgabat serves as New Delhi’s gateway to Central Asia.
The corridors factor in bilateral relations not only enables India to reach new regions but also allows Turkmenistan to expand into new geographies. In this context, Sunil Mukundan, the Managing Director of India Ports Global Limited, visited Ashgabat to attend the conference titled “International Transport and Transit Corridors: Linking and Development 2023 (ITTC 2023)” held on 3-4 May 2023. During the visit, Mukundan stated that cooperation could be established for the transportation of Turkmen goods to Southeast Asia and beyond through India.
Mukundan mentioned that they have been in talks with various companies regarding the export of goods using Turkmenistan’s International Turkmenbashi Port and emphasized the importance of creating interconnectivity and mutual dependence between the countries. He stated that several Indian businessmen could come to Turkmenistan, and the countries could purchase each other’s products. Furthermore, he expressed that India could provide connectivity services for the transportation of Turkmen goods beyond South Asia.
The statements and proposals made by Mukundan carry great importance both in bilateral relations and within the framework of the INSTC. Firstly, New Delhi aims to provide a secure route to Ashgabat and demonstrate that the established relations will not be based on unilateralism, emphasizing its willingness to assist in accessing new markets. In this case, while Turkmenistan increases its economic gains through new markets, India will also transform into an important port in the Pacific. On the other hand, within the framework of the INSTC, it is understood that India considers actively utilizing the corridor in a bidirectional manner, going beyond it being a one-way route.
Furthermore, India seeks to bring balance to the mutual trade that will be shaped in Turkmenistan’s favor due to the energy it will import under the TAPI project. Additionally, an important factor that should not be overlooked is China’s intensified relations with Turkmenistan. As known, there are strong relations between Ashgabat and Beijing in terms of energy, economy, and corridors. India aims to balance China by establishing a win-win relationship with Turkmenistan.
 “Туркменистан сможет отправлять товары в Юго-Восточную Азию при содействии Индии”, Centralasia.news, https://centralasia.news/21339-turkmenistan-smozhet-otpravljat-tovary-na-rynki-jugo-vostochnoj-azii-pri-sodejstvii-indii.html, (Date of Accession: 16.05.2023).
 “Индия готова содействовать Туркменистану в продвижении товаров на рынки Юго-Восточной Азии”, SNG.FM, https://sng.fm/26551-indija-gotova-sodejstvovat-turkmenistanu-v-prodvizhenii-tovarov-na-rynki-jugo-vostochnoj-azii.html, (Date of Accession: 16.05.2023).