Summit called off due to Covid, mutually agreed, underline India, Russia
India and Russia on Wednesday dismissed a report that their annual summit wasn’t held this year for the first time in two decades because of purported differences over the Indo-Pacific and Quad, with both sides saying the meet was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov created a buzz in diplomatic circles by saying recently that Western powers were using an “aggressive and devious” policy to engage India “in anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies”.
Russian diplomats subsequently clarified that Moscow understands India’s inclusive vision of the Indo-Pacific based on international law, but has concerns about the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad – a grouping that brings together India, Australia, Japan and the US – since it could jeopardise regional cooperation.
Responding to the report on the purported reason for the India-Russia Summit not being held this year, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a brief statement: “The India-Russia Annual Summit did not take place in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic. This was a mutually agreed decision between the two governments.
“Any imputation otherwise is false and misleading. Spreading false stories on important relationships is particularly irresponsible.”
A statement issued by the Russian embassy quoted ambassador Nikolay Kudashev as saying that the summit was postponed “due to epidemiological reasons”. The envoy described the report as “far from reality” and said the “special and privileged strategic partnership” with India is “progressing well despite Covid-19”.
“Staying in close touch with our Indian friends to work out new dates for the summit, postponed due to epidemiological reasons. We are confident that it will be held in the near future, while Russian-Indian relations will continue its further development,” Kudashev said.
During a media briefing on Monday, Kudashev had said the pandemic “did not stop our bilateral engagements, although it eventually affected the schedule of our contacts, including the annual bilateral summit”.
The envoy had said Russia now expects the summit “to be held in 2021 along with other important high-level events, including civil and defence inter-governmental commissions”.
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