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6 Dec, 2023 10:08

Relationship with Moscow ‘saved us at times’ – New Delhi

The weight of “history” between India and Russia is a defining aspect of their ties, the foreign minister has said
Relationship with Moscow ‘saved us at times’ – New Delhi

The ties between India and Russia that have “accumulated” over a period of 60 years have “saved” New Delhi at times, India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has asserted, two months after he described the relationship between the two countries as “extremely steady.”

Speaking at the Global Technology Summit in New Delhi on Monday, Jaishankar noted that ties have been forged over the past five or six decades at the “direction of world politics,” adding that the weight of “history” is another defining aspect of the relationship.

“I see a problem defined in a way as though somewhere there’s some handicap that India has by having this relationship. But this relationship has saved us at times,” the diplomat said, citing India’s proximity to Russia as another reason for close ties. “Just looking at the map, it makes sense that India and Russia would have strong relations. For us, there is a lot of logic [in having strong ties with Russia].”

New Delhi’s unfaltering ties with Moscow have come under scrutiny from the West amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict. India has abstained from all resolutions moved against Russia at the UN since February 2022. Last month, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the diplomat described the sanctions against Russia as “levers” that advanced economies have at their disposal and argued that “many parts of the world do not accept the concept of sanctions in the same way.”

Since the conflict broke out, trade volumes between Russia and India have reached new highs, with turnover over January-August having already surpassed the total for the previous year. India’s imports of Russian oil surged by 80% year-on-year to an average of 1.56 million barrels per day in September. New Delhi has also continued buying weapons from Moscow, which remains the Southeast Asian nation’s key arms supplier.

In October, Jaishankar asserted that buying Russian oil has been in New Delhi’s “best interests.” “Had we not exercised that option, think what difference it would have made to you, think how much higher your petroleum prices would have been, think how much inflation would have gone up in this country,” he said in a speech in the city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

During his visit to the US in September, Jaishankar described New Delhi’s relations with Moscow as “extremely steady.” He also noted that the two countries take “great care” to avoid any disruption to ties.

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