By Amit Agnihotri
New Delhi: Russia, a trustworthy old friend, has backed India in the bitter face off with China along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.
The support is significant for New Delhi as it has come ahead of the crucial BRICS meeting to be hosted by Moscow in September.
BRICS is an international grouping comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was earlier scheduled to meet in St. Petersberg in July but the conclave had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
India’s tough stance against China’s aggression along the de facto border in eastern Ladakh has been appreciated by the world powers, including the United States and Japan, who want China to resolve the matter peacefully.
Russia, which at present heads the BRICS, besides the other key groupings like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Russia-India-China (RIC), too shares similar sentiment like other global powers.
“We are against any unilateral geopolitically motivated actions and illegal extraterritorial sanctions which create instability, mistrust and unpredictability,” Ambassador of Russian Federation to India Nikolay Kudashev said, without naming any country.
He was speaking at a webinar on ‘Russia-India Relations and Pandemic Test of Global Governance‘ organised by BRICS Russia Expert Council and an Indian think-tank Observer Research Foundation on July 23.
“BRICS was not invented to fight or contain anyone, rather to support the efforts of the international community on the issues related to peace, sustained development and economic cooperation,” said Kudashev.
The Russian ambassador’s remarks have come at a time when high-level diplomatic exchanges between the two countries are taking place to finalise the BRICS and SCO agenda.
The SCO currently comprises eight member-states China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, four observer-states interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six ‘Dialogue Partners‘ (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).
On Aug. 4, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov discussed the forthcoming calendar of high-level meetings in the framework of BRICS and SCO and interactions and meetings at various levels preparatory to the India-Russia Summit in October when Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit New Delhi, India’s Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement.
Shringla and Morgulov also exchanged views on various regional and international issues of mutual interest reflecting common ground and approaches and agreed to maintain regular contact, the MEA said.
Noting that 2020 is a significant year, Kudashev while speaking at the webinar, highlighted that it marks the 20th anniversary of the Russia-India Strategic Partnership.
The extended agenda of BRICS, said Kudashev, was aimed at widening cooperation among member states and that the international order was today based on international law.
India’s ambassador in Moscow D. Bala Venkatesh Varma, who also spoke at the webinar, said BRICS had promised to make a difference when it was set up in 2006 but in 2020, when the international situation was complicated, it remained to be seen the informal body lived up to its relevance.
“We will approach BRICS with a solid plan,” Kudashev said, in a hint about the ongoing confabulations to finalise the agenda for the crucial meet.
Varma noted the Russia-India strategic partnership was an anchor for multi-lateral activity and brings responsibility on both the countries to add value to multilateral cooperation.
The BRICS meet is happening at a time when India is laying greater thrust on economic and industrial self-reliance, as it is facing the Chinese aggression.
The Russian ambassador tweeted today that India’s effort was being closely followed by his country. “Over last 70 years, Russia remains India’s most trusted partner in reaching this goal,” said Kudashev.