Foreign Minister Jaishankar speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov : The Tribune India


New Delhi, April 1

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Friday, a day after the United States warned of the consequences for countries trying to “bypass” US sanctions against Moscow.

The high-level talks came amid indications that India could buy larger volumes of Russian oil at a discount and both sides wanted to have a ruble-rupee deal for bilateral trade.

Lavrov arrived in New Delhi on Thursday evening after concluding a two-day visit to China.

Russian Foreign Minister is due to visit Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his talks with Jaishankar.

Hours before Russia’s foreign minister landed in India, US deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh warned there would be consequences for countries that actively try to ‘circumvent or counterbalance’ US sanctions against Moscow.

After holding a series of meetings with Indian interlocutors, he said Washington would not like to see a “rapid” acceleration in India’s imports of energy and other raw materials from Russia.

The proposed rupee-ruble payment system, if finalized, should help the two long-time strategic partners to continue their bilateral trade while avoiding the scope of Western sanctions against Russia.

People familiar with Lavrov’s visit said earlier that the Indian side is likely to press for timely delivery from Russia of various military hardware as well as components of the S-400 missile systems.

Unlike many other major powers, India has yet to criticize Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and has abstained in votes on UN platforms to condemn Russian aggression.

However, last Thursday, India abstained on a Russia-driven resolution on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, seen as reflecting its neutral stance on the conflict.

India pushed for the resolution of the crisis through diplomacy and dialogue.

Prime Minister Modi had telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, March 2 and March 7.

Modi had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy twice.

Last week, Jaishankar told parliament that India’s stance on the Ukraine conflict had been “firm and consistent” and that it sought an immediate end to violence.

Shirlene J. Manley