Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s India visit on Monday-Tuesday will give him an opportunity to hear out India’s perspective on China amid the disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) following military standoff.
Lavrov, fresh from his visit to Beijing, is expected to hold a forward-looking dialogue with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on multiple dimensions of the rise of China, ET has learnt. India’s perspective on China is of high importance to Russia and the two ministers will exchange notes on the issue, highly-placed sources told ET.
Russia was engaged in backchannel diplomacy last year to defuse tensions between Delhi and Beijing following the Galwan standoff while Moscow continued to supply defence equipment to the Indian military to guard LAC. As the chair of BRICS, Moscow was the venue for a bilateral dialogue between Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi last September. The two foreign ministers reached an understanding in Moscow and disengagement is based on that arrangement.
The growing Iran-China ties, including the recent Sino-Iran mega pact, besides the future of JCPOA, are also expected to figure in Jaishankar-Lavrov dialogue, it has been learnt.
Among regional issues, Lavrov and Jaishankar would seek to narrow the gap on perspectives on Afghanistan and its future, ET has learnt. India has been hosting Afghan leaders over the past year and recently joined Heart of Asia meet will share its perspective on Afghanistan and emphasise on peace within and outside that country for durable peace in the region. Lavrov will be accompanied by Russia’s interlocutor on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov.
Lavrov’s trip would also help prepare for the India-Russia annual summit in India later this year that would focus among other issues on defence, energy & connectivity deals. The agenda for the BRICS Summit India will host later this year will also be the focus for the Lavrov visit. India is also the current chair of Russia-India-China or RIC format.
Lavrov’s visit is taking place less than two months after the India foreign secretary’s Moscow trip, when he handed an invite to the Russian foreign minister to undertake an India trip. Faster connectivity between the two sides to increase volume of business is a priority for the two sides and the first ministerial visit to India from Russia since the outbreak of Covid will present an opportunity to discuss these initiatives. India is keen to give a push to connectivity links in the Eurasian theatre, including Russia, via INSTC and Chabahar Port
New Delhi and Moscow are in talks to join hands with ASEAN related bodies as part of their emerging Indo-Pacific partnership, besides widening their connectivity and business links in East Asia and North-East Asia including with Japan. India and Russia will explore bilateral partnership in the ASEAN with focus on post-pandemic economic rebuilding.
Experts on international affairs pointed out that flurry of high-level diplomacy by the US and Russian foreign ministers prove that the international community has decided to revive high level diplomacy that had to be put on the backburner due to Covid last year. India plays a key role in the revival process of the global diplomatic calendar. US-Russia relations are not as bad as it appears as the two sides are cooperating on disarmament, outer-space and climate change issues.