Saturday, April 13, 2024

Jaishankar urges Asian nations to engage with Russia

India’s minister of external affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar has suggested that countries in Asia and elsewhere should engage more with Russia as it seeks new partnerships amid its standoff with the West.

Jaishankar made the comments on Friday at the Raisina Dialogue, India’s main geopolitical gathering in New Delhi. He said Moscow and Beijing had been forging stronger ties since the West “closed the doors” on Russia.

“On the one hand, you have people who set policies that bring the two together,” Jaishankar explained. “And then you say, ‘Beware of them coming together.’”

Discussing Moscow’s advocacy of multilateralism, Jaishankar said Russia was a power with an “enormous tradition of statecraft.” Therefore, it would never put itself into a single relationship of an “overwhelming nature,” he added. He said Russia was turning towards non-Western parts of the world, and it “makes sense” for countries to give it “multiple options.”

“If we railroad Russia to a single option, then you’re making it a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Other countries, especially in Asia, need to engage Russia,” Jaishankar said, adding that this was “certainly in the Indian national interest but it is also in the global interest.”

The minister was responding to the question of whether India sees the relationship between China and Russia as a sustainable and equitable one. His comments came a day after Indian Defense Secretary Giridhar Aramane, speaking at the same venue, described Beijing as a “bully” and thanked the US for its intelligence support in the ongoing Himalayan border standoff.

Earlier this week, India and China held a 21st round of military talks to resolve these issues. Both sides stressed that a complete disengagement in areas of friction along the Line of Actual Control was essential for restoring normalcy along the borders, according to New Delhi’s readout. India has also expressed concern in the past over China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean Region. 

The Indian foreign minister defended New Delhi’s own ties with Moscow on a number of occasions at the Raisina Dialogue, where 115 countries are participating, including most European nations. India has been under constant scrutiny from the West for maintaining a friendly relationship with Moscow – one that Jaishankar described as “extremely steady” during his visit to Russia in December. 

Last year, New Delhi and Moscow for the first time registered trade worth over $50 billion, backed by India’s increased imports of Russian oil. This is despite continuing criticism from the US and European countries, some of which have alleged that India’s embrace of Moscow has softened the blow that Western sanctions aimed to inflict on Russia. Indian officials have repeatedly insisted that India’s ties with Moscow, including energy trade, stem from “pragmatism,” while ramped-up purchases of Russian crude helped stabilize prices in the global markets and prevented greater inflation.

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