New Delhi: “We are friends,” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told in a media conference after his meeting with Indian counterpart, Dr S Jaishankar. He also said Indian actions ‘inspire respect’.
For his part, Indian External Affairs Minister emphasised that as a developing economy, global volatility in different domains is of “particular concern” to India.
“It is important for both countries that their economic, technological and people to people contacts remain stable and predictable,” he added.
The Russian minister also said India saw the Ukraine crisis in the “entirety of facts and not just in a one-sided way”.
Importantly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi allowed an audience to the Russian foreign minister when he praised India for refusing to condemn Ukraine ‘invasion’.
Lavrov was categorical, stating that New Delhi and Moscow would have ways to circumvent “illegal” western sanctions, and the trade and arms supply will continue.
The western observers, like ‘The Guardian’, did not miss the point, “Modi had not met the string of other foreign ministers to arrive in Delhi in recent days, including the UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss, and the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, so Lavrov looks to have been singled out for attention by the Indian leader.”
British foreign secretary Liz Truss had tried to dub the month-long war as one between democracies and autocracies, but India, the world’s most populous democracy, is unwilling to buy that line.
In other words, New Delhi is insistent on its national interest. It is unwilling to break years-old ties with Russia on arms sales, gas and a future realignment of the global security architecture.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told a TV channel, “I would put my country’s national interests first and I would put my energy security first….Why should I not buy it (gas)? I need it for my people.”
At the same time, during a panel discussion with British foreign secretary Liz Truss, EAM Dr Jaishankar almost lampooned European double standards.
“If you look at the major buyers of oil and gas from Russia, I think you’ll find most of them are in Europe. We ourselves get the bulk of our energy supplies from the Middle East….maybe less than one percent from Russia,” he said.
Lavrov said: “These days our western colleagues would like to reduce any meaningful international issue to the crisis in Ukraine … We appreciate that India is taking this situation in the entirety of facts, not just in a one-sided way. I can only say that the balanced position of India, which is not influenced by blackmail or diktat methods, inspires our respect.”
“I have no doubt that a way would be (found) to bypass the artificial impediments which illegal unilateral sanctions by the West create. This also relates to the area of military-technical cooperation,” the Russian foreign minister said.