Lavrov had suggested during his Islamabad visit, in a message for Pakistan Army, that South Asian disputes should be resolved in a civilised manner and based on international law
Russia made it clear on Wednesday that its military cooperation with Pakistan is limited to the supply of equipment meant to bolster fight against terrorism and cannot be compared with the depth of India-Russia ties.
Days after Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s Pakistan visit, Russia’s ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev and his deputy Roman Babushkin told media persons that there is “no reason to think there are divergences or misunderstandings between Russia and India as far as Pakistan is concerned”.
Russia is committed to fulfilling all arms deals with India, including the contract for S-400 air defence systems, despite the threat of US sanctions, said Kudashev and Babushkin.
Referring to Lavrov’s visit to Pakistan, Babushkin said, “Russia is following its commitments and there is a limited cooperation with Pakistan, as compared to India. However, the fight against terrorism is our common agenda. So we also help Pakistan (by) providing anti-terrorism equipment and holding dedicated exercises.”
The deputy envoy said Russia respects the Simla Agreement of 1972 and Lahore Declaration of 1999 which leave no scope for third party mediation in India-Pakistan affairs. The decision by India and Pakistan to adhere to the 2003 ceasefire on the Line of Control is “a very important step in terms of ensuring regional stability”, he said.
Lavrov had suggested during his Islamabad visit, in a message for Pakistan Army, that South Asian disputes should be resolved in a civilised manner and based on international law. The diplomats were briefing a select group of media persons following Lavrov’s recent visit to Delhi to prepare the ground for the annual India-Russia Summit to be held later this year.
“We have independent relations with India and Pakistan and other countries, while ties with both are based on their own merits,” said Babushkin. “All three countries are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and cooperate in areas such as such regional security and the fight against terror, which envisages capacity building and exercise.”
Kudashev described military cooperation as one of the most important tracks of the India-Russia relationship and said all arms deals were on track despite the threat of US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
“Together with India, we don’t recognise bilateral sanctions as they are illegal tools of unlawful and unfair competition, pressure and even blackmail. It was clearly stated by the two foreign ministers in the course of their exchange,” said Kudashev. “With regard to the S-400 and other agreements, both sides are committed to the agreed timelines and other obligations. This contract is being successfully fulfilled.”
Kudashev said that while India is Russia’s “closest friend and trusted partner” and both sides have convergence on a majority of global and regional issues, including Afghanistan, Russia continues to have some concerns about the Indo-Pacific concept.
Both Kudashev and Babushkin described India as a key partner in efforts to ensure security and stability in Afghanistan, and said New Delhi would be part of discussions under the Moscow Format and eventually the “extended troika”. They said India can help in building regional consensus in efforts to find a solution in the war-torn country.
In response to a question on India-China tensions linked to the standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Babushkin said, “We are following the developments at the LAC and we would encourage India and China to continue disengagement efforts in order to promote constructive and forward-looking dialogue.”
Emphasising this, he said, “This is a very important precondition for regional stability and certainly we would encourage both sides to take advantage of our common multilateral platforms. They are very much scheduled at the highest level in the course of the year, including the BRICS summit, SCO Summit and RIC Summit.”