Defence minister Rajnath Singh expected to attend Russia’s Victory Day parade
Defence minister Rajnath Singh is expected to visit Russia next week to participate in the Victory Day parade in Moscow on June 24, people familiar with developments said on Friday.
The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the visit is on “as of now” and that Singh will be accompanied by senior Indian officials. He is expected to travel a day or so before the parade, they added.
“There is a proposal from the Russian side and we are considering it. The visit is on as of now,” said one of the people cited above, declining to give details.
The people said the visit will be closely linked to developments on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a tense standoff since early May. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a violent face-off with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley on June 15, exacerbating tensions.
A high-level Chinese delegation will be present for the Victory Day parade though no meetings are expected with the Indian team, the people said.
It was originally expected that defence secretary Ajay Kumar would accompany Singh to Russia, but the defence minister is now expected to travel with senior defence and military officials as Kumar is recovering from Covid-19. Officials had confirmed on June 3 that Kumar had tested positive for Covid-19.
India on Thursday confirmed that external affairs minister S Jaishankar will join a virtual meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping on June 23, a day ahead of Indian and Chinese military contingents marching in the Victory Day parade.
Russia formally announced the virtual meeting of the RIC foreign ministers on Wednesday, quashing doubts about India’s participation in the aftermath of the violent clash along the LAC.
A day after the RIC meeting, military contingents from India and China will participate in the Victory Day parade in Moscow, which marks the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany on May 9. Each year, Russia organises a massive military display involving thousands of troops and tanks parading through the Red Square. This year’s event has been delayed by the pandemic.
A 75-member Indian tri-service contingent left for Russia on Friday. China sent a 105-member contingent of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) honour guard on June 15.
Moscow’s relations with New Delhi and Beijing are currently very good, and Russian diplomats, in recent remarks to the Indian media, have spoken of the need for easing tensions between India and China for regional stability.