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India-Russia annual summit postponed for 1st time in two decades amid Moscow’s unease with Quad

This is the first time since 2000 that New Delhi and Moscow have not held their annual meeting even as tensions with China remain high. 

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New Delhi: For the first time in the last two decades, India and Russia have not held their annual summit. This comes after Moscow expressed severe reservations on New Delhi joining the Indo-Pacific initiative and Quad, thereby tilting more towards the US. 

India and Russia have been holding the annual summit, which is the highest institutionalised dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership, since 2000 when the ‘Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership’ was signed between both sides. 

This is the first such year, however, when despite several high-level visits from New Delhi to Moscow, tensions have begun to simmer in the bilateral ties over Russia’s rhetoric against India’s increasing alignment with the US, diplomatic sources told ThePrint. 

The bilateral ties between India and Russia were upgraded to ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ from ‘Strategic Partnership’ in December 2010 during the visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to India. 

“There is indeed some discontent over Russia’s repeated comments on India and casting aspersions over New Delhi’s decision to join the Quad,” said an Indian official adding that the summit may take place early next year. 

So far, 20 annual summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia. The  last summit — 20th India-Russia Bilateral Summit — was held in September 2019 for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Vladivostok.

Prior to that, President Putin visited New Delhi in October 2018 for the 19th annual summit. He was to visit India this year.

Sources also said while a virtual summit was planned around September-October this year, the plans did not fructify even as Russia tried to play the role of a mediator, mediating peace between India and China over the border standoff. 

In fact, during both the visits of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to Moscow in June and then in September, Russia discussed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) issue with India. 

In September, during the RIC (Russia-India-China) meeting, it was Moscow that facilitated a meeting on the sidelines between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi. This took place post the Galwan clash in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives while fighting the Chinese troops. 

Presently, Russia is the chair of RIC, SCO and BRICS – all of these meetings went on smoothly. 

On the other hand, Modi held several summit meetings with world leaders virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the key ones being the summit with the PM of Australia, which was the first virtual summit that the Prime Minister held with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, followed by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the last one being with the Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

In fact, in 2014 when the Ukraine crisis took place and Crimea got reunified with Russia, the annual summit took place between President Putin and Prime Minister Modi reaffirming their partnership in civil nuclear cooperation and defence ties. 

Putin had thanked India as well as China for their “restraint and objectivity” in the Ukraine matter.  

“This is indeed a matter of concern that the two countries who share a deep relationship could not even hold the summit virtually. Even in 2014 during the Ukranian crisis, President Putin was here for a few hours only to hold the summit,” said Ashok Sajjanhar, former diplomat who was posted in Moscow in the early 2000. 

Sajjanhar added that if there are issues creeping up in this ‘special and privileged relationship’ then it needs to be discussed. “Both sides have to come together to address the issues.” 

According to him, Russia’s attempt at mediation between India and China may have created some degree of discontent in South Block and the fact that their Foreign Minister is repeatedly slamming Indo-Pacific and Quad shows that it is saying this only to appease the audiences in China and Pakistan. 

Also read: Moscow’s relationship with China, Pakistan independent of its ties with India — Russian envoy

Lavrov’s remarks not made at ‘opportune time’ 

While Russia has on several occasions earlier slammed the concept of Indo-Pacific as the US’s attempt to divide the world and contain China, its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov named India once again and said it is being party to “anti-China” policies by aligning with the western world.

“At a time when the Chinese are threatening us and are sitting at the border, Lavrov should have not made such comments,” said former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, who was also India’s ambassador to Russia from 2004-2007. 

“This is not the opportune time for him to keep stating the same thing again and again knowing all too well that the China threat is staring at us,” Sibal added. “But wittingly or unwittingly, the Russians are overlooking the threat.”

This year while India had been preoccupied with China even as a tough border standoff, which also witnessed bloodshed, began in May, New Delhi tilted more towards the US and other “like-minded” countries such as Australia and Japan under the Indo-Pacific strategic initiative as well the Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, much to Russia’s discontent.

The Quad countries — US, Japan, Australia and India — even held a joint naval exercise, Malabar, in a show of strength. 

“If Russia is concerned about India and the US coming close to each other in strategic and defence terms, this is the all the more reason why they should reach out to India. New Delhi and Moscow have to bridge the gap,” Sibal said. 

Reiterating Lavrov’s remarks Monday, the Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said the Indo-Pacific has no common vision and that the Quad is detrimental to the security and stability of the region.

Also read: No blanket waiver of CAATSA sanctions for buying Russian/Chinese arms, but India safe, says US


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  1. Certified Fake news! Russians themselves denied it. And Shekhar Gupta want us to pay for this embarrassing journalism where fake handels comments about breaking daily India.

  2. I am surprised at the negativity about our relation with Russia.Prime Minister Modi has done a commendable job in deepening our ties with Russia.It is just that the media focuses too much on the US and China.Russia still retains its military might and is stronger than China in that sense.China is no Soviet Union.People overestimate the comprehensive national power of China.Russia did not comment when it came to core issues of national interest like Article 370 unlike the Americans. Even though our relations with US is extremely important, fringe elements in the Congress keep making negative statements about India.No Indian does the same about the Americans.We cannot give up on our relationship with the Russians.We have to have great relations with both the US and Russia.Indian diplomacy is capable of this.

  3. Russia criticising Quad, objecting to Indo-Pacific and wrongly saying India is being party to “anti-China” policies by aligning with the western world and not criticising China for its transgressions and silent when China killed 20 Indian soldiers show it is not India’s friend.

    How can Russia supply lethal arms to China & Pakistan whose goal is disintegration and destroyal of India. If it can have relationship with those 2 it doesn’t have moral right to preach us. Diplomacy is 2way street.

    If Pakistan was rich like Saudi/Qatar/UAE/Kuwait, Russia would have long back dumped India and could be sponsoring resolution in UN Security Council for Pakistan membership and also putting sanctions on India to satisfy China & Pakistan.

    Russia never fought for our membership in UN Security Council, MTCR or NSG. Only France & USA are fighting. Russia is just playing lip service of supporting us but not actively making any active move to get India its rightful membership. It is only partly to satisfy China but mainly Russia doesn’t want India on high table as peer & equal. It does get rules by Indo-Pacific and worried about feeling of China. Why doesn’t it stand for India’s sensitivities that are trampled by China. To start with let it canvass for India’s membership just like France &USA is doing and telll it’s friend China to not block our membership

  4. India signed the BECA agreement with US. If you think Russia will stay with you after you willy nilly hand over the control of your army to the US AND expect Russia to be your ally then you’re the fool, not Russia
    India broke alliance with Russia and not the other way around

  5. It’s good that india is openly siding with the western countries, as it will be a trigger for the people seeking independence from india. It’s a good sign for dalits and minorities, soon they will have their own independent countries , similar to before British Times. Well done Russia, india can’t be trusted.

    • A typical non-sequitur argument from a pakistani punjabi. pakistan is currently being shaken by internal dissent and separatism, attacks by the Baloch Army are increasing and rumours are that Sindhi groups are also going to up the ante against the punjabi colonial establishment.

      Will pakistan ever learn from its mistakes in ’71?

  6. Good. Let’s proceed faster on the Quad alliance. We can’t trust this China’s sidekick anyway in a real hour of need.

  7. Without getting into the merits of this particular decision, one would welcome the saving of precious time. An annual summit between two old flames serves no useful purpose. For that matter, G 20, BRICS, SCO – both of whose utility MEA might wish to review – provide so many opportunities for a useful meeting on the sidelines. We should tend to our own orchard, looking a little parched now, also overgrown with weeds. 2. Republic TV’s £ 20,000 fine underlines a more important point. There is a growing cleavage between a still largely melodious domestic echo chamber and what the world is making of New India.

  8. India must, on a priority, improve on its R&D and production of equipment required for defense and other technology needs to be truly independent.

  9. Even Russia no longer silent on India threat to Asia peace.

    Everyone views QUAD as a US led threat to Indo Pacific security, only the 4 members lied its for peace and freedom of passage.

    Because these 4 evils of QUAD axis are the threats of mankind with imperialism and expansionism ideology, and a long history of bloody cruel invasion.

    Birds of feather flock together.

    • China pushed India into the the QUAD camp after last year’s June engagement in Ladakh. The Chinese can do all the mental gymnastics they want regarding “imperialism” but the fact of the matter is that just like the Indian state, China is guilt of imperialism in Xinjiang and Tibet.

      A good solution would be for the Indian state to return to its frontiers as of 15th August 1947 and for China to return to its frontiers as of 21 September 1949.

  10. well who needs Russians anymore, they have become fat lambs in the Chinese farms.. and India must proceed in a way that ensures its own interests and should not care more about russia.

  11. Once uping a time India was disneyland of spies. India has been milked by many countries because of its dependence on defence needs.
    While Indo-pacific may western world’s concept but by Russia opposing it is doing China’s bidding. When 20 Indian soldiers have died and then ally like Russia is saying western world is drying to create differences with China. This cannot be even innocent mistake.

    It seems Russia does not care about its friend. Western world citicised annexation of Ukraine India did not, but Russia wants India to ignore China’s adversarial actions.
    Russia is not doing right thing/s. Even when Pakistan and China pushed some bilateral matters to UNSC, Russia has been cryptic than unequivocal.

  12. India should not shy away from partnering with USA if we have to grow faster on our development and economic agenda it is US and their allies helps to achieve that, if Russia is a friend they shouldn’t worry about India rise rather become more proactive partner in development.

  13. Russia is making its stand clear that India matters little when its own its own interests are concerned. Also it reveals that Russia hardly has any manuavrability over the bully China. Both China and Russia would like to have multipolar world, but they don’t understand this: Any country which doesn’t use democratic processes for its own internal governance is always susseptible to autocratic ways. Both China and Russia follow autocratic models of geovernance (apposition is either mudered or put in jails), and can never fully realize why democracy is essential. Today Russia and China look to be friendly to each other because both are anti-USA. Actually the truth is deeper, China does want to cosy upto USA as its its business interests are getting affected. And the biggest truth is, had USA and West been not economically and militarily stronger, then Russia and China could never have been friends; there would be conflicts between their self-interests. Pakistan is a case in point; can anybody says China and Pakistan are true friends? It’s clear as a sky that China is manipulating Pakistan as its slave.
    So India has to take the hard decision. USSR and Russia did stand by India in 1965 and also in 1971. So there is strategic partnership between India and Russia. All good. But next comes people to people contact, acceptance of each other’s culture. Did it ever happen between India and Russia? The answer is a big NO. I’ve been to one of MIG factories. There has never been true partnership, the Russians would always hide something, there was always lack of trust. Russians would always spy on Indian leaders; even it is believed that the Russians knew when Lal Bahadur Shastri was having breathing trouble, but they didn’t inform, lest India knew about their spying.
    On the other hand, the partnership between India and the West is more driven by people to people relations, aceeptance of each other’s culture with positive criticism wherever needed, immigration and democracy in overall. So this relationship is much more than strategic, much more stronger, a natual one with utmost stability.
    So India must choose USA and the west rather than leaning towards Russia.

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