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India-Russia relations insulated from headwinds from the West: Jaishankar 

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday (Images courtesy: MEA & Russian Foreign Ministry)

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday spotlighted the “exceptionally steady and time-tested relationship” between India and Russia, two partners which continue to engage each other in an increasingly multi-polar and re-balanced world.

Jaishankar made the remarks just before the start of his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. Even though this is Jaishankar’s first visit to the Russian capital since the start of the conflict in Ukraine in February, the two diplomats have met each other four times before today on the sidelines of various international forums.

This, the EAM mentioned in his opening statement before the start of the meeting, speaks of the long-term partnership and the importance that both countries attach to each other. He also stated that there have been strong and continuing contacts between both governments at various levels.

“Prime Minister Modi and President Putin met most recently in Samarkand in September. Our Defence Ministers spoke to each other. My colleague National Security Advisor Doval was in Moscow in August. Our Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers was in Russia in June. And at the official level, I think, our colleagues have been in regular touch. And this is all very much in the spirit of our relationship,” said Jaishankar.

Today’s meeting, he said, will assess the state of bilateral cooperation; exchange perspectives on the international situation and what that means to the respective interests.

“Where bilateral ties are concerned, you would agree that it is our objective today to fashion a contemporary, balanced, mutually beneficial, sustainable and long-term engagement. Especially as our economic cooperation increases, this is a significant imperative. We would be discussing how our shared goals are best achieved,” said Jaishankar.

The External Affairs Minister, like he has done on several occasions before, remarked how the Covid pandemic, financial pressures and trade difficulties have taken a toll on the global economy.

“We are now seeing the consequences of the Ukraine conflict on top of that. There are also the more perennial issues of terrorism and climate change, both of which have a disruptive impact on progress and prosperity,” he said.

Russia-India relations constitute a special privileged strategic partnership. Over the past decades, the two countries have formed effective cooperation mechanisms.

“We communicate with you regularly. This reflects the pace our leaders are setting for the relationship and our highly privileged strategic partnership,” said Lavrov in his opening comments.

“In the era of change now being experienced by the international community, it is important to regularly compare our assessments and agree on how we will further advance the solution of all the tasks set by President of Russia V.V. Putin and Prime Minister of India N. Modi in the political, trade and economic, investment, technological spheres, as well as in the field of cultural and humanitarian exchanges,” he added.

Russia’s key areas of cooperation with India include further intensification of the political dialogue in the bilateral format and at international platforms, and stimulating economic, financial, energy, military-technical, humanitarian, research and development cooperation.

The main topics of Jaishankar-Lavrov discussion included trade, investment, transport, logistics, using national currencies in mutual settlements, and prospective energy projects, particularly on the Arctic shelf and in the Russian Far East.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that both ministers also exchanged views on topical international issues, focusing on interaction within the UN, the SCO, G20, BRICS and RIC besides discussing preparation for India’s SCO Presidency, counter-terrorist measures and regional issues, including building a security architecture in the Asia-Pacific Region, Iran’s nuclear issue and the state of affairs in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.

“Russia and India support the active building of a fairer, more equal, and polycentric world order, realising that it is unacceptable to promote imperialistic dictate on the global arena. Both countries have close positions on essential issues and support compliance with the generally recognised norms of international law enshrined in the UN Charter. They seek to promote a unifying agenda and build a constructive dialogue in relations between countries,” Moscow said in a statement before the meeting.

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