India rolls out red carpet for Russian Foreign Minister – The Diplomat

Amid continued carnage in Ukraine, India has been exceptionally busy, welcoming top diplomats from West and East. Over the past two weeks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been followed by US Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Meetings often became awkward and acrimonious, especially when Western dignitaries were involved. When meeting with Truss, in response to criticism over India’s decision to buy more Russian oil, Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar suggested there was an ongoing ‘campaign’ against India .

Later, Daleep Singh told a small group of reporters that there would be “consequences” if India tried to circumvent sanctions against Russia. This became a particularly important message, given that Lavrov was traveling to New Delhi a day later to discuss ways to boost rupee-ruble trade between India and Russia in response to sanctions against Moscow.

The frenzied talks have put India’s foreign policy in a delicate spot. Comments from Washington make it increasingly clear that India’s ties with the United States will suffer if New Delhi maintains its strategic ties with Russia. In recent years, India has collaborated with America on a host of capacity building issues, including joint development of defense technologies, improving India’s role in the global supply chain and helping New Delhi find a seat on global decision-making councils.

Even if analysts in New Delhi dismiss fears that any of these initiatives could be affected by the impasse over Ukraine, the West’s treatment of Russia as an existential threat will inevitably have consequences, such as the warned Singh. And the possibility that India-US relations will suffer will only increase as the war drags on.

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Yet, on the other hand, if New Delhi now retraces its steps towards Moscow, it will be seen as acting under American pressure.

Ultimately, over the past week, India seemed to be tilting more and more towards Russia, albeit subtly. Jaishankar maintained his tough rhetoric to block the West. But more tellingly, of all those who have visited Delhi in the past two weeks, Lavrov was the only one to secure a coveted meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.

Context matters. When Wang Yi requested a similar meeting during his last-minute visit to New Delhi just days ago, India rebuffed him, citing lingering border tensions. Whether intentionally or not, India’s message was therefore that it did not consider Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to be as serious as China’s incursions into the Himalayas.

Modi’s decision to meet Lavrov was a far cry from India’s stated policy of non-alignment and it could have wider implications as the war drags on in Ukraine. More importantly, by resisting unprecedented pressure from Washington, New Delhi could successfully deter China from further border aggression.

For years, Beijing has been wary of India’s rise as a US ally in the Indo-Pacific. He has regularly decried the Quad, which he sees as a containment mechanism aimed at China’s rise. Seen in this context, Beijing’s routine transgressions on the border with India are partly strategic – attempting to keep India tethered to the Himalayas and less able to play a more proactive regional and global role.

But if Beijing views India as a reluctant member of the Western liberal order, it may well sense an opportunity for a reset with New Delhi. Indeed, when Wang Yi visited New Delhi last week, there were indications that Beijing wanted India and China to coordinate their roles in multilateral affairs. Ahead of his own visit, Lavrov said Russia and China were building a ‘new world order’, and while in New Delhi he situated efforts to establish Indian and Russian currency trading as part of overall efforts. of Moscow to reduce the hegemony of the US dollar.

For Modi, none of this is as unpleasant as Washington might hope. Indeed, on many crucial issues, India now agrees more with Russia and China than with the United States, whether on the need for multipolarity or the quest to reduce American hegemony. within global financial systems. On issues such as human rights, climate change and religious freedom, the Modi government is already on the same wavelength as Moscow and Beijing, as the Indian analyst of the Sushant Singh defense.

Rolling out the red carpet for the Russian foreign minister this week – despite a flagrant and unprovoked violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and freedom – India has already made a strong statement about its position in the battle for shape the world.