India wants Russia to join the US-led Indo-Pacific initiative to boost bilateral ties with Moscow and not send wrong signals to China. The Indo-Pacific initiative is largely seen as an attempt to counter China and if Russia joins the initiative it will no longer be seen as a US-led framework.
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The matter was discussed during a recent phone-call between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and Ambassador of India to Russia D. Bala Venkatesh Varma and in many other frequent diplomatic dialogues that have been taking place between both sides, sources for ThePrint said.
Earlier this year, Russia alleged that the Indo-Pacific initiative is aimed at containing China’s influence in the region. However, India and the US refuted the claim saying that it wasn’t aimed at excluding any nation and is a “principled vision”.
“It is a community of countries that respects the rule of law, stands up for freedom of navigation in the seas and skies above, promotes open commerce, open thinking and above all, defends the sanctity of each nation’s sovereignty,” said Matthew Pottinger, US deputy national security advisor. He further slammed the Eurasian economic project, saying it was less free, less open, less flexible and tended to be more hierarchical and coercive.
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New Delhi has reportedly told Moscow that it supports Russia’s ‘Greater Eurasia’ policy and it should also join hands for the Indo-Pacific, and not see this merely as the US’ divisive strategy.
According to P.S. Raghavan, former Indian envoy to Russia, and now head of the National Security Advisory Board, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated that the Indo-Pacific is not aimed at confronting China but to implement a rule-based order in the region.
“Russia is also aware of Beijing’s growing aggressiveness, but it needs China for economic reasons,” he said. “So by joining the Indo-Pacific it will come closer to India because India does not see Indo-Pacific as an initiative to confront China,” he added.
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Even with deteriorating relations with China, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar took part in the virtual Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting so as to not disrupt the equation with Russia, according to sources.
As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, Russia’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ played a vital role in reducing India-China border tensions. Moscow’s efforts reportedly helped in the release of ten Indian army soldiers that were captured by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ahead of the RIC foreign ministers’ meet on June 23.
In addition, as per an official, despite Russia’s own growing bilateral relationship with China, Moscow did not shy away in assuring India with emergency supplies of armaments if matters deteriorated.
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Despite the threat of US sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), India has remained firm to buy S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia.
Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh visited Moscow for its ‘Victory Day’ parade, the first high-level visit from India to any country during the pandemic. “All these are signs that India and Russia continue to remain close friends and depend on each other during a crisis situation,” Raghavan said.