West using AUKUS, Quad against Russia, says Sergey Lavrov
Lavrov made the remarks during a discussion at Raisina Dialogue, India’s premier conference on geopolitics organised jointly by the external affairs ministry and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF)
Russia wants India and China to be friends and Moscow’s energy policy will be oriented towards “reliable” partners such as New Delhi and Beijing in the wake of Western sanctions, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.
Lavrov made the remarks during a discussion at Raisina Dialogue, India’s premier conference on geopolitics organised jointly by the external affairs ministry and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). At a combative session, Lavrov often pushed back against questions about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and contended Moscow is only trying to stop a war started by NATO and the West.
Responding to a question from the audience on whether Russia has calculated the cost of its deepening ties with China for the relationship with India, Lavrov said: “We never make friends against somebody. We have excellent relations with China and excellent relations with India.”
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Russia’s facilitation of Indian participation in mechanisms such as Russia-India-China (RIC) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) provides platforms “where India and China can cooperate and look for some common solutions”. He added, “We will continue this policy. We never engage in playing any country against any other country.”
Russia has often attempted to bridge differences between India and China since the start of the military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in May 2020. Russia facilitated meetings between the foreign and defence ministers of India and China on the margins of SCO meetings in Moscow in September 2020 though the contacts didn’t lead to any immediate breakthrough.
With India and China becoming the largest buyers of discounted Russian oil following the West’s imposition of sanctions and a price cap, Lavrov said Moscow will reorient its energy policy towards reliable partners.
“The war which we are trying to stop and which was launched against us using Ukrainian people, it influenced the policy of Russia, including energy policy. The blunt way to describe what changed – we would not anymore rely on any partners in the West,” he said.
“The energy policy of Russia will be oriented towards reliable [and] credible partners. India and China are certainly among them,” he added.
Lavrov also accused the US and the West of seeking to drive a wedge between Russia and other countries by using mechanisms such as Quad and AUKUS.
“This is unfortunately what is being tried by some other outside players in the context of so-called Indo-Pacific strategies, in the context of AUKUS, in the context of using Quad, not for economic purposes but trying to militarise Quad,” he said.
“The idea promoted by our American friends of Asean plus Quad is openly aimed at ruining the East Asia Summit. In other words, it would be East Asia Summit minus China and Russia. These are the questions I believe you should address more openly and honestly,” he said.
Lavrov has made similar accusations about the Indo-Pacific policy and Quad in the past, only to have them dismissed by the Indian side. Just hours before he participated in the session at Raisina Dialogue, Quad foreign ministers told another session at the same venue that there was no security component to the grouping.
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Lavrov also sought to portray Russia as the side that had been wronged in the Ukraine conflict, which he contended was the result of NATO’s expansion of its security alliance. “We are trying to stop the war that was launched against us, that was started by NATO and the West,” he said.
“[US president Joe] Biden, [US secretary of state Antony] Blinken, (European Union foreign and security policy chief Josep] Borrell have repeatedly said Russia must be defeated on the battlefield. It is existential for the West…If it is existential for them, then it is existential for us,” he added.
Lavrov said multilateral bodies such as the UN were silent on foreign military operations launched by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, whereas the West is now attempting to “blackmail” developing countries to force them to denounce Russia. “The developing world was silent [on Ukraine] until the West started blackmailing them, threatening them, sanctioning those who wouldn’t sanction Russia,” he said.