Russia understands India’s vision of Indo-Pacific, has concerns about Quad: Russian diplomats

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Dec 21, 2020 01:59 PM IST

Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev also called for “enhanced dialogue” between India and China against the backdrop of the military standoff along the Line of Actual Control

Russia understands and supports India’s inclusive vision of the Indo-Pacific based on international law but has concerns about the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad that could jeopardise regional cooperation, the two top Russian diplomats in New Delhi said on Monday.

Russian ambassador Nikolay R Kudashev.(HT Archive)
Russian ambassador Nikolay R Kudashev.(HT Archive)

Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev also called for “enhanced dialogue” between India and China against the backdrop of the military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), saying this is the key for taking forward relations between the two countries and for regional stability and security.

India had recently pushed back against Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s contention that the West’s Indo-Pacific policies were aimed at enmeshing India in “anti-China games” and said New Delhi has an independent foreign policy based on its national interests.

Roman Babushkin, the chargé d’affaires at the Russian embassy, said his country understands the Indian concept for the Indo-Pacific but there is currently no unified vision for the vast region because many countries were promoting their “own Indo-Pacific visions”.

This has led to the creation of mechanisms that are “non-inclusive as compared to the Indian approach to the Indo-Pacific, which we understand very well and support the inclusiveness and its reliance on international law”, he added.

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Russia also has apprehensions about the intentions behind such mechanisms. “We are facing attempts by some countries to create containment in the region that threaten to jeopardise basic principles for regional cooperation, for example Asean centrality and Asean unity. That means Quad would be detrimental to inclusive dialogue in the region,” Babushkin said.

Kudashev too said Russia has no problems with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative but backed greater engagement within existing multilateral mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Russia-India-China (RIC) and Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics).

Responding to a question on the India-China standoff, Kudashev said he hoped New Delhi’s relations with Beijing would reach the same level as the specially privileged and trusted strategic partnership with Moscow.

“We would naturally, in our capacity as a friend to both India and China, welcome enhanced dialogue between New Delhi and Beijing...We believe that this is the key for the future progress of your ties with China and regional stability and security,” he said.

Referring to India-China relations, Kudashev said it is “not the habit of the Russian government to interfere with bilateral ties between other countries”. He added, “But if you would question me what would be our preference, our vision, our goal and our message to the region, it is that we offer a unifying agenda, the concept of the larger Eurasian partnership which should bring the two ends together, which could bring together Russia’s vision, the Chinese vision, the Indian vision.”

Kudashev also referred to Russia’s role in facilitating talks between India and China this year, saying defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar had “profound negotiations” with their Chinese counterparts on the margins of SCO meetings in Moscow in September.

“It was very significant in the context of constructive engagement of both sides to maintain peace and tranquillity at the Line of Actual Control. Russia is a trusted partner for India and China, and we feel it is vital to ensure a positive atmosphere for cooperation between the two neighbouring Asian giants,” he said.

Lavrov’s comments on the Indo-Pacific and India falling prey to moves by the West to entangle it in “anti-China games” were criticised by Indian experts and commentators. The external affairs ministry also said India’s relations with each country are independent of its ties with third countries.

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