New Delhi (NVI): The Ministry of External Affairs today said that the India-Russia annual summit did not take place this year because of the COVID pandemic and that this was a mutually agreed decision between the two governments.
MEA’s statement comes in the wake of a report which claimed that the annual summit wasn’t held this year for the first time in two decades because of purported differences between the two countries over the Indo-Pacific and Quad.
“Any imputation otherwise is false and misleading. Spreading false stories on important relationships is particularly irresponsible,” MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said here while responding to a media query regarding the summit.
The Russian side has also conveyed the same concerns over the cancellation of the summit. Russian ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev was quoted as saying by the embassy that the summit was postponed “due to epidemiological reasons”.
During a press briefing on Monday, the Russian envoy said that the pandemic “did not stop our bilateral engagements, although it eventually affected the schedule of our contacts, including the annual bilateral summit”.
MEA’s statement on the summit comes in the backdrop of Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s recent statements that Western powers have adopted an “aggressive” and “devious” policy to engage India in “anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies”.
Lavrov had accused the western powers of trying to undermine Russia’s close partnership and privileged relations with India.
The Russian foreign minister’s remarks reflected Moscow’s traditional suspicion of the India-Pacific concept.
The Russian foreign minister’s comments came against the backdrop of tensions between India and China over a border row in Eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control, even as Russia has been nudging both the countries to resolve the issue through talks.