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India raises Ladakh standoff issue at 2+2 talks with Russia, says our defence challenges ‘real’

At 2+2 talks, defence minister Rajnath Singh discusses ‘expansion of armament’ in India’s neighbourhood, while foreign minister S. Jaishankar talks about Afghanistan situation.

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New Delhi: Without naming China, India Monday raised the issue of the ongoing Ladakh standoff during the first 2+2 ministerial dialogue with Russia.

During the dialogue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar held talks with their Russian counterparts Sergey Shoigu and Sergey Lavrov, respectively.

“I have had an opportunity to discuss in detail the emerging challenges India is confronted with and the enhanced requirement for India for closer military and military-technical cooperation with Russia,” said Rajnath Singh during his opening remarks at the 2+2 talks.

Without mentioning China, Singh also said, “The pandemic, the extraordinary militarisation and expansion of armament in our neighbourhood and unprovoked aggression on our northern border since early summer of 2020 have thrown up several challenges. India is confident of overcoming these challenges with a strong political will and inherent capabilities of its people.

Therefore, Singh said, India’s development needs are “colossal” and that its defence challenges are “legitimate, real and immediate” and “India seeks partners who are sensitive and responsive to its expectations and requirements”.

In 2020, India and China used Moscow as the platform to hold ministerial meetings to find resolution to the border standoff and came up with the “Moscow Agreement” of sorts.

Singh also said the defence ties between India and Russia have progressed in an unprecedented manner in recent times.

“We hope that Russia will remain a major partner for India in these challenges circumstances,” he said, adding that both sides will now seek greater military collaboration by way of co-production and co-development of defence equipments leading to India’s self-reliance.

Speaking about maritime security in the Indian Ocean region, Singh said: “We are optimistic of Russia’s cooperation in all the domains.”

Russian defence minister Shoigu in his opening remarks said India and Russia will expand and enhance their defence and security ties.

The two countries also signed a 10-year long military-technical cooperation agreement and sealed the contract to manufacture six lakh units of the AK203 assault rifles in Uttar Pradesh.

Later in the day Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold the India-Russia Annual Summit.

Also read: From buyer of military goods, India wants to become Russia’s ‘development & production’ partner

‘Situation in Afghanistan has wider repercussions’

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said both sides are meeting at a “critical juncture in the global geopolitical environment which is great flux.”

Jaishankar said as “close friends and strategic partners” New Delhi and Moscow have been working to “safeguard our common interest.”

“Our ties have been close and time-tested. In a world that has changed so much, they have been exceptionally steady. We’ve had active dialogue at political levels and also a strong defence partnership over many years,” the foreign minister said.

Jaishankar said that while “long-standing issues remain” in global geopolitics, new ones have now emerged, with the prominent among them being “terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation.”

“The situation in Afghanistan has wider repercussions, including for Central Asia, West Asia or the Middle East continues to present hotspots,” he said.

Jaishankar’s Russian counterpart Lavrov said both India and Russia share a “similar world view.”

“We speak in favour of international law… We adhere to the non-interference in domestic affairs of other countries,” Lavrov said, adding that the new 2+2 talks that began today between both sides will further cement the ‘special and privileged strategic partnership’ between New Delhi and Moscow.

Also read: Putin’s visit is a defining moment for India-Russia ties. It’s a telling message to China


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