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  4. Russia never hurt India's interests, always had stable and friendly ties: Jaishankar

Russia never hurt India's interests, always had stable and friendly ties: Jaishankar

Jaishankar highlighted that Europe shifted to the Middle East for energy procurement and that India cannot share the same view as European countries on Russia. He also highlighted that Western countries preferred Pakistan over India for arms supply, but the trend has changed in the last decade.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee munich Published on: February 20, 2024 16:45 IST
Jaishankar, India Russia ties, Russian oil
Image Source : OFFICE OF DR S JAISHANKAR (X) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during an interview on the sidelines of the Munich Conference.

Munich: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar reaffirmed India's stance on buying Russian oil despite sanctions imposed during the Ukraine conflict, saying Moscow had never hurt the interests of New Delhi and that both countries have always shared "stable and friendly" relations. He also spoke on European perspectives towards Russia and China and reiterated the call for reforms in global governance institutions.

In an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, Jaishankar said, "Everyone conducts a relationship based on their past experiences. If I look at the history of India post-independence, Russia has never hurt our interests". He further emphasised that there have been ups and downs between the relations of powers like Europe, the US, China and Japan, but India-Russia relations have always remained very friendly.

"We have had a stable and always very friendly relationship with Russia. And our relationship with Russia today is based on this experience. For others, things were different, and conflicts may have shaped the relationship. We, on the other hand, had a politically and militarily much more difficult relationship with China, for example," he said further.

Can't have a view of Russia identical to European one: Jaishankar

The External Affairs Minister further also spoke on India's need for European support during the border conflict with China in 2020, saying, "Just as I do not expect Europe to have a view of China that is identical to mine, Europe should understand that I cannot have a view of Russia that is identical to the European one. Let us accept that there are natural differences in relationships".

Jaishankar said India and Europe have talked about their stance and have not emphasised their differences, highlighting that European countries shifted their energy procurement to the Middle East, which was then the main supplier of India and other countries, when the war broke out in Russia. 

"What should we have done? In many cases, our Middle East suppliers gave priority to Europe because Europe paid higher prices. Either we would have had no energy because everything would have gone to them. Or we would have ended up paying a lot more because you were paying more. And in a certain way, we stabilised the energy market that way," he added, reiterating his previous stance.

India shares a robust strategic partnership with Russia, including extensive defence cooperation between the duo. Both countries engage in joint military exercises, co-development of advanced military platforms, and technology transfers. More recently, energy collaboration has become another strong pillar of bilateral ties.

'Western countries supported Pakistan, not India'

Jaishankar also pointed out that many Western countries used to support Pakistan over India for arms supply, but the trend has changed in the last decade. "That has changed in the past ten or fifteen years with the USA, for example, and our new purchases have diversified with the US, Russia, France and Israel as the main suppliers," he said.

According to the EAM, the world has created an economic model that is unstable and unfair, leading to "over-concentration". "The global order is currently facing multiple kinds of stress. Due to shocks like Covid, the war in Ukraine, the war in Gaza, the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan and disruptive climate events that are happening more and more frequently. That is our challenge. However, it is not just about strengthening the international order, but also about changing this order. Who shapes it and on what basis? The international order must evolve further," Jaishankar added.

Jaishankar on UN reforms

The minister also underscored the need for reforms in the United Nations, saying the countries blocking reform are in denial about changes taking place in the world order in recent decades, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is no point in saying to international institutions: "Do your job better" if they are not capable of doing so. Look at how the international order simply collapsed during a historically large problem like COVID. Every country acted in its best interest," he stressed, noting that many countries failed to help each other.

"It was good, there was some collaboration, but most countries didn't help each other. If we are leaving out large parts of the world, we urgently need to change the international order. Even today, many, many countries are angry that they received vaccines so late that they were subject to entry restrictions, that their economic development was seriously undermined," he added.

Jaishankar travelled to Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference. Speaking at a panel discussion alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Jaishankar said it was hard to have a unidimensional relationship in the contemporary world. Defending India's stance on Russian oil, he said, "Is that a problem, why should that be a problem? If I am smart enough to have multiple options, you should be admiring me.” Blinken who was sitting next to him broke into a smile.

"I don't want you to even inadvertently give the impression that we are purely unsentimentally transactional. We are not, we get along with people, we believe in things, we share things, and we agree on some things but there are times when you are located in different places have different levels of development, and different experiences all of that gets into that," he further said at the discussion. 

He also met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi have met briefly in Germany on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, their first meeting in more than six months. He also pushed for a "two-state solution" to the Palestine issue, calling it more urgent than before in lieu of the Israel-Hamas war.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Jaishankar's savage reply on India buying Russian fuel leaves Blinken smiling | WATCH

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