Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in New Delhi on a two-day official visit to India from Thursday. This is his first visit to India since Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. Lavrov was in China before coming to India where he met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday.
It is believed that Lavrov will hold talks during his visit to help mitigate the impact of sanctions imposed on Moscow and to advance business ties with India. It is also expected that during Lavrov’s visit to India, talks can be held on the purchase of concessional Russian crude. Also, given Western sanctions against Moscow, talks can be held to establish a rupee-ruble payment system for bilateral trade. Recently, India has agreed to import 3 million barrels of Russian oil at heavily discounted rates. There can also be talks between the two countries on ensuring timely delivery of various military hardware and equipment of the S-400 missile system.
On Friday, Lavrov will meet India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar at Hyderabad House in Delhi and will leave for Moscow in the evening.
Significance of Lavrov’s visit to India
Professor Gulshan Sachdeva, an expert on European affairs, says that the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to India is very important in the developments going on in the context of Ukraine. According to him, the way the countries of the West are trying to isolate Russia, this visit is important at such a time. Professor Sachdeva says, “Western countries are trying their best to put pressure on India. India has so far tried to show itself neutral. In the last 10-15 years, India’s relations with western countries have also deepened. The closeness has increased in the last two-three years with China due to the ongoing tension with the West. In such a situation, the western countries expect that India should stand on their side, and in any case, it should not appear that India is inclined toward Russia. “
India’s defense interests have been linked with Russia since the time of the Cold War and India’s dependence on Russia in the defense sector is not a secret. It is a fact that almost 70 percent of India’s military hardware comes from Russia. In this situation, it is believed that India will not compromise on its decades-old friendship with Russia, giving priority to its defense interests.
Discussion on Rupee-Ruble payment system
Under US-led sanctions imposed on Russia, some Russian banks have been removed from the Swift messaging system, which has a direct impact on Russia’s ability to do international business. During Lavrov’s visit to India, a rupee-ruble payment system may be considered for payment of Russian crude oil prices between the two countries.
Experts believe that there is talk of a Rupee-Ruble agreement and India buying oil from Russia, but these things are not of much importance because India and Russia’s trade is not very much.
Professor Sachdeva says, “India and Russia have an old way of doing rupee-ruble business, so there will be no problem in running it. Talks will definitely take place about this and maybe some agreement will also be made. As far as buying oil is concerned. India did not buy a lot of oil from Russia. Russia is very far from the geographical point of view.”
Message to the world
Retired Major General Shashi Asthana of the Indian Army is an expert in strategic affairs. According to him, in the situation created by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, India will have to think about its own interests. He says, “India has only one topic to talk about with Lavroff and that topic is how India will pay for the purchase of defense equipment and oil. What India had to say on the Ukraine crisis, India has already said in the United Nations. During this visit, India has to discuss only its bilateral matters with Russia. As far as pressure from western countries is concerned, the political leadership of India will have to deal with this pressure.”
Manoj Joshi is associated with the Observer Research Foundation based in Delhi and has been a journalist specializing in national and international politics. He says that leaders of many countries are coming to India for the last few days and are pressurizing India to change its stand towards Russia. “Lavrov and Russia only want India to stand firm on the stance they have taken.”
In recent times, there has been an uptick in diplomatic activities related to India. The leaders of Japan and Australia held summit talks with their Indian counterparts in early March. German and EU diplomats are visiting Delhi and Lavrov has arrived in India at a time when UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and the United States Deputy National Security Adviser Dalip Singh are in India.
It is worth noting that India has not yet voted in the United Nations on any resolution condemning Russian military action in Ukraine. But at the same time, to deal with this crisis, it has also advocated for adopting the path of talks and peace.
According to Manoj Joshi, if the relations between Russia and Western countries deteriorate further, then India’s problems will increase and pressure may increase because India is also hanging on the sword of sanctions regarding S-400. He says, “If relations between Russia and America deteriorate further, then the question will surely arise in the US Congress, what is India doing. If there is more destruction in Ukraine or the bombing increases and Russia’s goal becomes more clear, questions will arise.” Manoj Joshi says that India would like to see it on both sides. “It would also like to appear to protect the sovereignty and the Charter of the United Nations, and at the same time support Russia.”
At the same time, Professor Gulshan Sachdeva says that there will be a discussion on buying oil at cheap prices and making a rupee-ruble trade agreement, but from a strategic point of view, the meaning of Lavrov’s visit to India is bigger. He says, “It is a matter of strategic and diplomatic importance that at a time when Western countries are trying to isolate Russia, at that time India is not condemning Russia but also maintaining a respectful relationship with it. This is an important message.” He says that the way Western leaders are coming here for the last few days, it is clear that efforts are being made to put pressure on India. “But India’s fundamental stance towards Russia is not going to change. And this is the message that this visit of Lavrov also gives. India’s stance is not anti-Russian even if it is not in support of Russia.”
Will India’s troubles increase?
Experts say that many of India’s interests are related to the countries of the West, so it will have to take steps carefully. But at the same time, it is a matter of relief for India that the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has no direct impact on India’s security.
Professor Sachdeva says, “This security problem is of Europe. Even if India did not stand with the western countries, then there would be no effect on its security. Its own security may be at risk in the coming times because India’s dependence on Russia in the defense sector is very high and this is not going to change in the coming times. If India turns against Russia and Russia stops giving parts and weapons to India in the future, then it can be difficult. Due to the ongoing tension with China, India would not want to take this risk.
Professor Sachdeva believes that due to this whole incident, attention has shifted from China to Russia. He says, “India wanted China to have everyone’s attention, keep pressure on it, but now that pressure has shifted from China to Russia.” At the same time, he says that the pressure on India will remain, but India will continue to try to convince the countries of the West that some of its interests are related to Russia.
He says, “After this whole development, India will have to re-evaluate other countries and the countries of the West will also need to make a new assessment about India. The way western countries have changed the payment system of trade. Using a strategic weapon is a lesson for all. India also has to think about how much it should depend in the future on these western systems.
रूसी विदेश मंत्री सर्गेई लावरोव यात्रा पर भारत पहुंचे 🇷🇺🇮🇳 #Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey #Lavrov arrived in #NewDelhi with an official visit. Tomorrow he will hold talks with @DrSJaishankar. He will also be received by the Indian @PMOIndia Narendra Modi. pic.twitter.com/yjLrta2Z7y— Russia in India 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbIndia) March 31, 2022
Leave a Reply