Indian foreign minister meets Vladimir Putin despite western concerns

India-Russia relationship, rooted in defence collaborations, is increasingly facing strains amid concerns that Moscow’s pariah status may drive it closer to China

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 28 December 2023 11:06

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India’s foreign minister met Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Wednesday – a move seen as part of Russia’s efforts towards overcoming western isolation by strengthening its ties with India.

Despite western concerns, S Jaishankar met with the Russian premier who expressed gratitude to India for its support and even invited Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to visit Moscow.

The India-Russia relationship, rooted in defence, nuclear, and space collaborations, however, is increasingly facing strains amid concerns that Moscow’s pariah status may drive it closer to China.

Russia is estranged on the world stage with a shrinking circle of friends, thanks to the bloody war it is waging in Ukraine.

India, a major recipient of Russian military supplies, expanded its discounted oil purchases, countering US attempts to isolate Russia and providing financial support. Despite Russia’s 22-months-long invasion of Ukraine, India has maintained a neutral stance, citing Delhi’s historical connections with Moscow.

During the meeting with the Indian foreign minister, Mr Putin said: “Everything is in your hands and I can say that we are successful because of your direct support.”

Mr Jaishankar reportedly discussed bilateral cooperation, multilateralism, and a multipolar world order with the Russian leader.

The minister also reportedly delivered a written letter from the Indian prime minister to Mr Putin during their meeting. The letter conveyed Mr Modi’s thoughts on the state of Russia-India relations, reflecting the ongoing diplomatic dialogue between the two countries.

The details of the letter were not specified.

Earlier on 27 December, Mr Jaishankar met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. “We will focus on bilateral cooperation in different spheres, adjusting it to changing circumstances and demands,” he said.

“We will discuss the international strategic situation, conflicts and tensions where they are.”

Mr Lavrov said in televised remarks before the meeting with the Indian counterpart that the two nations are interested in “building an international political and economic system that would be open and fair for everyone”.

“Typically, defence, nuclear and space are collaborations you only do with countries with whom you have a high degree of trust,” Mr Jaishankar had told members of the Indian diaspora in Moscow on 26 December.

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