Visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to India from April 5-6, 2021 is significant from a couple of angles after the Indo Russian bilateral meeting between the two countries was cancelled for the first time ever last year.
Visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to India from April 5-6, 2021 is significant from a couple of angles after the Indo Russian bilateral meeting between the two countries was cancelled for the first time ever last year. “It may be the right opportunity to reset relations,” opines Brig NK Bhatia, an Indian Army Veteran. An official statement issued by the Embassy of Russia in New Delhi on the eve of the visit, states “Special and privileged strategic partnership with India is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities.” Adding, “India is a responsible and influential global player and we share the same vision of the model of the emerging polycentric world order.”
Rejection of confrontation and bloc-type approaches, the embassy statement also talks about the importance of the work between the two countries which is based on the principles of consensus and equality,
Adding, “In the spirit of the special and privileged strategic partnership we regularly check the status of our positions and coordinate approaches on a wide range of issues, including reform of global governance and strengthening the UN’s central coordinating role in international affairs.”
According to the statement, “The interest of the Indian business in the Far East and other regions of Russia are growing.”
What has caused this cooling off in the bilateral relations?
Sharing his personal views with Financial Express Online, Brig Bhatia says, “The primary reason for cooling off in the bilateral relations between Russia and India is due to India cosying up to the USA in the last couple of years and weaning away from Russia, including defence supplies. Although a major part of Indian defence equipment is still primarily of Russian origin, there has been a shift in recent years to look for alternate sources of supply, including indigenous defence equipment.”
As has been reported by Financial Express Online, the Russian foreign minister will be accompanied by Russian special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov who is expected to brief Indian leadership on the ongoing Russian efforts to get the intra Afghan talks going.
“Russia had last month taken the lead to host a meeting of representatives of US, China and Pakistan to discuss issues underway between the elected Afghan government and Taliban leaders to establish peace in the country. Pakistan for sure would have facilitated the presence of Taliban leaders in the Russia led negotiations. India had been omitted from the meeting showing growing closeness between the two countries,” observes Brig Bhatia.
According to him, “Another significant aspect of the visit is the hopping over of Russian foreign minister accompanied by Russian special envoy on Afghanistan immediately after their Delhi visit to Islamabad. As is well known Russia and Pakistan have been coming closer and there is talk of Pakistan receiving defence supplies from Russia. The two countries have also been holding joint military exercises, something that has been noted in India.”
“Besides the above issues, Russia has inched closer to Iran and China in the recent years. It is also not really happy with the developments in Pacific Ocean and South China Sea and formation of the Quad led by the US to keep a check on China. Given Russia’s close ties to China, India will need to do some deft manoeuvres to balance its relations with Russia,” the Indian Army veteran opines.
The agenda of the visit of the Russian foreign Minister
He is arriving late Monday (April 5, 2021) evening. His official engagements according to the Ministry of External Affairs will be on Tuesday (April 6, 2021). And by 4 pm he will leave from New Delhi to Islamabad.
This is a working visit to India, and the Russian will meet his Indian counterpart External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and will hold talks with him on a wide range of bilateral and international issues.
According to an official statement issued by the Embassy of Russia in New Delhi, “Both ministers will exchange views on vital issues of the international and regional agenda, including interaction in the UN, the SCO and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa). The BRICS is chaired by India this year, as well as the RIC (Russia, India, and China).”
The talks will also be on Afghanistan as well as the situation in the Asia-Pacific region.