Russian FM in India; bilateral ties, regional issues to be focus of talks

at 10:10 pm
Sergey Lavrov

New Delhi (NVI) Amidst uneasy vibes in bilateral ties, India and Russia are expected to discuss important aspects of their relations and regional issues when Foreign Ministers of the two countries – S Jaishankar and Sergey Lavrov – hold talks here tomorrow.

The two Foreign Ministers will also discuss the holding of the Summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is an annual affair but could not take place last year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Jaishankar and Sergey, who arrived here tonight, will also discuss aspects related to cooperation in the fight against coronavirus besides the situation in Afghanistan and Asia-Pacific region.

Interestingly, after his less than 24-hour stay in India, Lavrov will travel to Islamabad, which is seen as hyphenating India and Pakistan by Russia, traditionally one of the closest allies of New Delhi.

Ahead of the visit, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the trip will provide an opportunity to discuss important aspects of bilateral ties.

The two foreign ministers will also review preparations for the India-Russia annual Summit, he said.

Russian Embassy in New Delhi, in a statement, said the foreign ministers will discuss “topical issues of bilateral relations with an emphasis on the forthcoming high and highest level meetings as well as implementation of outcomes of the 20th Russian-Indian summit held on September 4-5, 2019 in Vladivostok.”

They will also exchange views on vital issues of the international and regional agenda, including interaction in the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS, which is chaired by India this year, as well as the Russia-India-China (RIC), it said.

“Important set of topics related to the situation in the Asia-Pacific region and Afghanistan will be discussed,” it added.

The Embassy statement said India is a responsible and influential global player and “we share the same vision of the model of the emerging polycentric world order.”

It said Russia attaches “great importance to collective work based on the principles of goodwill, consensus and equality, rejection of confrontation and bloc-type approaches.”

The Russian statement said, “In the spirit of the special and privileged strategic partnership, we regularly check the status of our positions and coordinate approaches on a wide range of issues, including reform of the global governance and strengthening the UN’s central coordinating role in international affairs.”

It said “special and privileged strategic partnership with India is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities” and that “the two sides are developing an active political dialogue, trade and economic, as well as military and technical ties, scientific, cultural and humanitarian contacts.

“A considerable experience of fruitful cooperation in wide range of areas has been accumulated. The interest of the Indian business in the Far East and other regions of Russia is growing.”

Russia’s move to include Pakistan in Lavrov’s itinerary assumes significance amid Moscow’s growing closeness with the arch rival of New Delhi. Apparently sulking against India for over a decade, Russia has even established military cooperation with Pakistan while maintaining that it will do nothing to hurt interests of India.

Recently, Russia, while hosting a multi-nation conference on Afghanistan, kept India out of it, toeing Pakistan’s line that New Delhi has no direct stakes.

Russia has been seemingly nursing a grouse against India ever since it signed the civil nuclear deal with the US in 2005 and started buying military hardware from the US in larger quantities.

Earlier, India had been procuring most of its military hardware, including fighter planes and helicopters, from Russia and erstwhile USSR. However, the policy was changed over a decade back, with the intent of expanding the basket of vendors rather than being over-dependent only on one country.