Faced with increasing pressure from the West to call out Russia, India has used the emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity to dismiss claims that it has parked itself in the Russian camp. When Lavrov met Modi to brief him about the situation in Ukraine, including the ongoing peace negotiations, Modi reiterated his call for an early cessation of violence, and conveyed India’s “readiness to contribute in any way to the peace efforts”.
Lavrov seemed satisfied with the outcome of the talks with Jaishankar as he said both countries continued to respect and accommodate each other’s interests and that foreign policies of both were based on legitimate national interests. He also described India’s foreign policy as independent and not susceptible to “blackmail”.
Backing the rupee-ruble payment mechanism the 2 countries are discussing, Lavrov expressed confidence India and Russia will bypass the “artificial impediments” created by the International sanctions imposed on Russia and that Russia will be ready to provide any goods India seeks to buy.
Lavrov though also called for cooperation with China under the RIC mechanism “to promote equity in international affairs”. Asked about India’s offer of help to resolve the Ukraine conflict, he said Russia is not averse to India playing a role if it can assert the ” principles of fairness and justice” and explain the same to others.
The foreign minister said I was “natural and objective” for Russia’s partners to increase their trade with Russia in the face of unreasonable sanctions.
“Many years ago we started to move away from using dollars in our relations with India, China and many other countries. We used our national currency more and more. That trend will intensify now. We will be ready to supply any goods India seeks. Our trade and finance ministers will find a way to bypass the sanctions,” said Lavrov. He added that military-technical cooperation with India will also not be affected by the sanctions and that Russia is open to new agreements in defence based on “mutual interests” and “balance of interests”.
In his opening remarks earlier, Lavrov said friendship is the key word to describe the history of India-Russia relations.
“Our relations were very sustainable during many difficult times in the past and I don’t have the slightest doubt that our mutual respect and the search for balance of interests will prevail in our relations in the future as well,” said Lavrov, as he praised Jaishankar for his remarks mentioning a multipolar world and underscoring the need for India to diversify its energy sources in the presence of UK foreign secretary Elizabeth Truss.
“We have been developing a specially privileged strategic partnership with New Delhi and this is one of the key priorities of the Russian foreign policy. It’s equality and mutual trust that underlie our actions on the international arena, and in the context of a multipolar world, which is being objectively shaped, as you alluded to yesterday addressing a conference in New Delhi. We are certainly interested in having the world order balanced, which makes it sustainable,” added Lavrov.