New Delhi: Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov paid a rushed visit to India Friday. This came even as Russia continued its bombing of Ukraine, escalating tensions, and with New Delhi warned by the US and others against continuing to do business with Moscow.
During the visit, Lavrov met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, in order to assess India’s stand on the war in Ukraine, and to expand Russia’s bilateral ties with India.
“India’s foreign policy is characterised by independence and concentration on real, national and legitimate interests. The same policy basis exists in the Russian Federation and this makes us, as big countries, good friends… We always respect each other’s interests and we always try to accommodate the interest of each other,” Lavrov said during his visit to India Friday.
Addressing a press conference after his meeting with Jaishankar, Lavrov said both Russia and India would look to intensify dealings in their national currencies in order to circumvent the unprecedented economic sanctions being imposed on Moscow as a result of the war.
“Many years ago, we started moving in our relations with India, with China and many other countries, from using dollars and euros to more and more use of national currencies. Under the (present) circumstances, this trend will intensify … We will be ready to supply India any goods which India wants to buy. We have very good relations … I have no doubt that a way would be found to bypass the artificial unilateral sanctions which the West created,” he said.
He also said India could play the role of a “mediator” between Moscow and Kyiv with its “position of a just and rational approach to international problems”.
Lavrov added that Indian and Russian ministers are working across the board to add momentum to transactions in goods such as crude oil, as well as armaments.
He further said, “We have no doubt that the solution will be found, and the respective ministries are working on it.”
“We don’t want to depend on a system which could be closed any time. We don’t want to depend on a system whose masters can steal your money overnight … If India wants to buy anything from us, we are ready to discuss it,” he said.
Not a ‘war’
Lavrov also said that by imposing sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and other key Russian individuals, the West has made its “real face” known.
“I have not the slightest doubt that most countries on Earth understand what is going on, and understand the inadmissibility of the manners which have been demonstrated by our Western, very, very, unreliable partners,” he said.
Discussing the conflict — which he refused to call a war — he said “maximum attention” had been paid to ensure that only military facilities are damaged, and not civilian infrastructure.
“The aim is to deprive the Kyiv regime of the capacity to present any threat to Russia,” he said. He added that this capacity had been “strengthened for many years by the US and other NATO countries”, who wanted to make the “neighbouring and fraternal country” anti-Russia.
India calls for cessation of violence
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, both sides considered the implications of recent developments for trade and economic relations.
“EAM underlined that as a developing economy, global volatility in different domains is of particular concern to India. It is important for both countries that their economic, technological and people-to-people contacts remain stable and predictable,” the statement said.
Jaishankar also called for the cessation of violence and the ending of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
“Differences and disputes should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy and by respect for international law, the UN Charter, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states,” the Ministry said.
Before leaving India, Lavrov met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver a “message” to him from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)