Russian Lavrov praises India’s stance on Ukraine

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New Delhi (AFP) – Russia’s foreign minister on Friday hailed India’s refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, saying Moscow and Delhi would find ways around “illegal” Western sanctions and continue to trade.

India has refrained from several United Nations resolutions censuring Moscow, calling only for an end to violence, and has increased its oil purchases from Russia, its biggest arms supplier.

“These days, our western colleagues would like to reduce any significant international issue to the crisis in Ukraine… (We) appreciate that India is taking this situation in full, and not just unilaterally,” he said. said Sergei Lavrov. said in New Delhi.

“Friendship is the key word to describe the history of our relationship, and our relationship has been very enduring during many difficult times in the past,” Lavrov said, speaking in English.

His counterpart S. Jaishankar reiterated “the importance of the cessation of violence and an end to hostilities” and said that “disputes should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy”.

Western financial sanctions have reportedly made it difficult for India to pay Russia for its imports, including arms, oil, rough diamonds and fertilizer.

Russia has written to the Indian Ministry of Defense asking for the clearance of arrears worth $1.3 billion, according to the Economic Times newspaper.

India and Russia are working on a ruble-ruble mechanism to facilitate trade and circumvent Western sanctions against Russian banks, according to media reports.

Lavrov told reporters he was confident the two countries would find a solution.

“Many years ago, we started to evolve our relationship with India, with China, with many other countries, from using dollars and euros to using more and more importance of national currencies. Under these circumstances, this trend, I think, will intensify,” he said.

“We will be ready to supply India with whatever goods India wants to buy…and I have no doubt that a way will be found to circumvent the artificial obstacles created by the West’s unlawful unilateral sanctions.”

China-India clash

India is however in a delicate situation since the Ukrainian crisis brought Russia closer to China.

Lavrov arrived in Delhi on Thursday from China, where he hailed Beijing as part of a new “multipolar, just and democratic world order”.

Moscow declared a “limitless partnership” with China, which also refused to condemn the Russian invasion.

India shares Western concern over China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region and is a member of the so-called Quad alliance with the United States, Japan and Australia.

Twenty Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers were killed in a fight on their disputed Himalayan border in 2020, causing their already frosty ties to deteriorate sharply.

Senior US official Daleep Singh, Washington’s chief sanctions strategist, was quoted by local media as saying that India could not count on Russia if there was another clash with China.

“Russia is going to be the junior partner in this relationship with China. And the more influence China gains over Russia, the less favorable it is for India,” Singh said during a side visit to Delhi on Thursday.

“I don’t think anyone would believe that if China breached the Line of (Actual) Control again, Russia would rush to defend India,” he added, referring to the Indo-China border.

Singh said the United States was ready to help India diversify its energy and defense supplies, but warned of the “consequences” for countries that evade sanctions against Russia.

“We are very keen that all countries, especially our allies and partners, do not create mechanisms that support the ruble and try to undermine the dollar-based financial system,” he said.

Lavrov was due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Friday, saying he would convey “best regards” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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