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HomeDiplomacyRussia's aggression already being felt in Indo-Pacific, says European Commission President

Russia’s aggression already being felt in Indo-Pacific, says European Commission President

At Raisina Dialogue 2022, Ursula von der Leyen touched upon crucial issues like democracy, Russia and China's all-weather friendship, and the heavy cost of the Ukraine war.

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New Delhi: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is on her first visit to India, said Monday that the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can already be felt in the Indo-Pacific region, and that the friendship between Moscow and Beijing poses a challenge to the global order.

Von der Leyen met President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Monday.

Addressing the inaugural session of the Raisina Dialogue 2022, the president of the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, touched upon crucial issues like democracy, Russia and China’s all-weather friendship, and the heavy cost of the Ukraine war.

Also read: 21st-century Stalin? Why Ukraine invasion has spawned comparisons between Putin & Soviet despot

Sharing fundamental values with India

Von der Leyen said “India and the European Union share fundamental values and common interests”.

“Together, we believe in each country’s right to determine its own destiny. Together, we believe in the rule of law and fundamental rights, and together, we believe that it is democracy that best delivers for its citizens,” she said.

Von der Leyen said despite the geographical distance and differences in the languages spoken, “when we look at each other, we do not meet as strangers but as close friends”.

“Democracy was born more than 2,000 years ago in Europe. But today, India is its largest home. For the European Union, strengthening and energising its partnership with India is a priority in this upcoming decade,” she said, adding that both India and the EU seek safe trading routes, seamless supply chains, and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

She said the world’s response to Russia’s actions will define the future of the international system and the global economy.

“What happens in Ukraine will have an impact on the Indo-Pacific region. It already has,” she said, referring to the sharp rise in prices of food, energy, and fertilisers.

“The outcome of the war will not only determine the future of Europe but also deeply affect the Indo-Pacific region and the rest of the world. For the Indo-Pacific region, it is as important as for Europe that borders are respected and that spheres of influence are rejected. We want a positive vision for a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” von der Leyen added.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has ‘shocked’ the world

The EC President said she had visited Bucha in Ukraine and witnessed the atrocities allegedly carried out by Russian forces.

“The reality is that the core principles that underpin peace and security across the world are at stake. In Asia as well as in Europe. The images coming from Russia’s attack on Ukraine have shocked and are shocking the whole world,” von der Leyen said.

She added that Europe considers Russia’s actions as a “direct threat” to the region’s security.

“We will make sure that the unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine will be a strategic failure. This is why we are doing all we can to help Ukraine fight for its freedom. This is why we immediately imposed massive, sharp, and effective sanctions,” she said.

However, she added that sanctions are never a “standalone solution”.

“They are embedded in a broader strategy that has diplomatic and security elements. And this is why we have designed the sanctions in a way to sustain them over a longer period of time,” she said.

Russia-China friendship has ‘no limits’

Von der Leyen said while Europe will continue to push Beijing “to play its part in peaceful and thriving Indo-Pacific”. she believes Russia and China have forged a friendship that has “no limits”.

She said Moscow and Beijing have now sealed an “unrestrained pact” where there are “no forbidden areas of cooperation”.

“If we consider what it means, for Europe and Asia, that Russia and China have forged a seemingly unrestrained pact… They have declared that the friendship between them has ‘no limits’; that there are ‘no forbidden areas of cooperation’; this was in February this year. And then, the invasion of Ukraine followed. What can we expect from the ‘new international relations’ that both have called for?” she asked, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China in February this year during the Winter Olympics.

However, she said the EU’s relationship with China is “strategically important and challenging”.

“On China, we will continue to encourage Beijing to play its part in a peaceful and thriving Indo-Pacific region. The relationship between the European Union and China is simultaneously strategically important and challenging. All at once, China is a negotiating partner, an economic competitor, and a systemic rival,” she stressed.

(Edited by Manoj Ramachandran)

Also read: ‘Worrying’ Ukraine situation is focus of Biden-Modi virtual summit, US hails India’s aid to Kyiv

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