Russian Foreign Minister hails India’s stance on Ukraine crisis

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praised India for not judging the Ukraine crisis in a “one-sided way”, and said the two countries would find ways to trade using local currencies.

“Our relations have been very durable during many difficult periods in the past,” the Russian foreign minister said during a visit to New Delhi on Friday. “We appreciate that India is taking this situation as a matter of fact.”

New Delhi is facing intense pressure from Western countries to join them in taking tougher action against Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

India has failed to condemn the invasion, failing to abide by United Nations resolutions censoring Moscow and pursuing deals to buy crude oil from Russia at cut prices, angering the United States and its allies.

Lavrov also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who expressed his country’s readiness to contribute to peace efforts.

India’s Foreign Ministry said that during talks with Lavrov, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stressed the importance of cessation of violence, end of hostilities in Ukraine and called for resolving differences through the dialogue and diplomacy.

Lavrov, who arrived in India from China, who also did not condemn the invasion, is seen as trying to shore up support from Moscow’s two big Asian allies in the face of harsh Western sanctions.

Speaking to reporters after his talks with India’s foreign minister, Lavrov said Moscow had developed a system for exchanging national currencies many years ago and “more and more transactions” would be carried out through it. mechanism for trading with countries like India, bypassing the dollar, euro and other major currencies.

Lavrov said Russia is ready to supply India with any goods it wants. “I have no doubt that a way would be (found) to circumvent the artificial obstacles created by the illegal and unilateral sanctions of the West. This also concerns the field of military technical cooperation.

More than two-thirds of Indian military equipment is of Russian origin and the supply of spare parts is essential for New Delhi, whose border tension with China shows no signs of easing.

India’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said that during Friday’s talks, Foreign Minister Jaishankar stressed that “it is important for both countries that their economic, technological and people-to-people contacts remain stable and predictable. “.

India has defended its decision to strike oil deals with Moscow, which offers crude at discounted prices.

“When oil prices go up, I think it’s natural for countries to go into the market and find out what the bargains are for their people,” Jaishankar said Thursday. He pointed out that Europe remained a major buyer of Russian oil and gas even after the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine.

On Thursday, American and British diplomats were in New Delhi trying to persuade India not to undermine Western sanctions against Russia.

US Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Daleep Singh, who met with Indian officials in New Delhi, said Washington did not want to see a “rapid acceleration” in oil purchases from Russia or mechanisms “designed to support the ruble” or circumvent financial sanctions.

In Washington, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press briefing on Thursday that he was not seeking to change the relationship that individual countries have with Russia, but to “make all we can for the international community to speak in unison, speaking out loud and clear against this premeditated, unjustified and unprovoked aggression, calling for an end to the violence using the influence that countries, including the ‘India, have for these purposes.’

India’s ties with Russia, which date back to the Cold War years, have remained strong, although it has forged close ties with the United States in recent years. India is part of the Quad alliance along with the United States, Japan and Australia.

Analysts say India is trying to strike a balance as it navigates relations with the two sides. Although India’s annual trade with Russia is only around $9 billion, New Delhi depends on Moscow for much of its military hardware, as it considers its partnership with the United States and its allies as important to counter an aggressive China.