Ahead of G20 Summit, Russian envoy draws red lines on Ukraine for joint statement
Russian ambassador Denis Alipov said despite assertions from the West, “it is Russia that is open to peace
NEW DELHI: There is no consensus within the G20 on the Ukraine crisis and the Indian presidency of the grouping faces “strong pressure” from some countries that have hijacked the agenda, Russian ambassador Denis Alipov said on Friday.
The existing rupee-ruble mechanism established by India and Russia is not working properly because of fears of secondary sanctions and other consequences within the Indian financial community and banks, Alipov said during an interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia.
Alipov also acknowledged delays in the delivery of S-400 air defence systems by Russia because of the Ukraine conflict but said the two sides had worked out a new timetable that is being “followed very meticulously”.
India’s G20 presidency is facing “strong pressure from some countries which hijacked the agenda” by using the Ukraine crisis, Alipov said. He contended that there had been consensus since the creation of the G20 that the bloc should focus on economic and financial matters. Russia doesn’t accept the discussion of political issues within the G20 and items on which there is no consensus should be removed so that the grouping can discuss topical matters such as climate change, sustainable development and the financial and food crises, he said.
“The success of the G20 rests on some members who insist on non-consensual matters in the agenda,” he added.
India is set to host the G20 Summit on September 9-10 and all ministerial meetings held so far have failed to produce joint statements because of divisions on the Ukraine conflict. Alipov said the language used in the leaders’ declaration at the last G20 Summit in Bali to refer to the Ukraine issue is no longer acceptable to Russia as the text has been overtaken by subsequent developments.
“If the West wants reflection of the Ukraine conflict [in the leaders’ declaration], then it should be open to changes in the para,” he said.
Alipov further contended that despite assertions from the West, “it is Russia that is open to peace”. He said Ukraine had consistently said it doesn’t want negotiations while the West continues supplying weapons to the country.
“We would welcome any serious proposals or ideas for resolution [of the Ukraine crisis] from India or any other country. India has not proposed any ideas that stand for the quickest resolution or cessation of hostilities,” he said.
Referring to the rupee-ruble mechanism for trade that was established some years ago to get around Western sanctions, Alipov said the arrangement is “workable but it doesn’t work properly because the Indian financial community and banks are reluctant to use it due to fears of secondary sanctions or some other consequences”. The US has no leverage to disrupt bilateral transactions in national currencies, but “over-cautiousness” is the main reason the mechanism is not working, he added.
Asked about the delivery of five S-400 systems contracted for by India, Alipov acknowledged that delays had occurred because of “military degradation” during the Ukraine conflict. “We have agreed mutually on a new timetable, which is being followed very meticulously,” he said.
Russia has so far delivered only three S-400 systems and all the deliveries were to have been completed by the end of 2023. The supplies are continuing and will be “concluded on time as stipulated in the new agreement”, Alipov said without giving details.
Alipov said in response to another question that a possible India-China conflict is a hypothetical matter. “We hope that it will never happen…Russia’s position is that our relations with India and our relations with China are very wholesome,” he said.
Russia advocates improvement of the relations between India and China but won’t interfere in disputes between the two countries, Alipov said. Both India and China have said their boundary issue is a bilateral issue and Russia has abided by that, he added.
Alipov also contended the Russia-India-China mechanism could help build confidence that could be the basis for improving relations. “This will certainly happen sooner or later but the sooner the better,” he said.
Asked about China’s new “standard map” that includes the territory of several countries, Alipov said Russia hasn’t formally commented on the matter but pointed out that the map has “some discrepancy on the Russian border as well”.
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