With the Russia-Ukraine war now in its ninth month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar began his two-day visit to Russia on Monday, to hold a high-level dialogue with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov, in the hopes to end the conflict and discuss a range of issues.
- Jaishankar’s visit comes at a time when on Sunday it was reported that Russia was India’s top crude supplier in October. It accounted for 22 per cent of India’s crude imports, surpassing Iraq (20.5 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (16 per cent).
- Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin heaped praises on India, saying that it has the potential for “outstanding” development. “India will achieve outstanding results in terms of its development – there are no doubts – and almost one-and-a-half billion people: now that’s potential,” the Russian President said.
- Over the weekend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered assistance on peace talks in a call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last month. But, Zelenskyy spurned the offer. According to a statement released by Zelensky’s office, “Zelensky told him Ukraine would not conduct any negotiations with Putin but said Ukraine was committed to peaceful settlement through dialogue”.
On the agenda
- Along with Lavrov, Jaishankar will also meet Russian trade minister Denis Manturov, his counterpart for the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC).
- One topic of discussion will involve the possibility of a summit meeting between PM Modi and Putin on the sidelines of G20 meet in Bali scheduled end November.
- Besides G20, the talks will finalise the agenda for cooperation under multilateral frameworks including SCO and BRICS
- Ukraine’s alleged threat of a nuclear war, aka ‘dirty bomb’ will be discussed. Last checked, the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA, had not found evidence of any undeclared nuclear activity in Ukraine.
- The discussion can veer towards the ‘terrorist attacks’ on its Black and Baltic Seas ships and alleged violations of Biological Weapons Convention by Ukraine and the US. Russia had recently brought a resolution in the UNSC for a probe into these allegations but the resolution was defeated with only China, apart from Russia, voting in favour. India was among the 10 countries that abstained.
- The situation in Afghanistan and counterterrorism are also among the issues that will figure prominently in the meetings.
- India, last week, voted in favour though of another resolution brought by Russia in UNGA for combating glorification of Nazism. The West accused Russia of using the resolution, which was adopted by a UNGA committee with 105 votes in favour, to justify its actions in Ukraine. The US called the resolution “a cynical attempt” by Moscow to further its geopolitical aims by invoking the Holocaust and Second World War.
Jaishankar’s is the second high-level visit to Russia by an Indian leader after Russia went to war with Ukraine. Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had visited Russia in June this year for St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).