Amid the war between Russia and Ukraine, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar went to Moscow on Monday to visit both countries.
Most of his meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, including a bilateral meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry, Denis Manturov. There is no talk of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but it cannot be ignored.
Jaishankar’s visit is significant as it comes days before the G-20 summit in Bali, scheduled for November 15-16. For the first time since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Putin and Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, will be in the same room.
Jaishankar’s visit is seen as an important occasion, with Delhi being touted as a potential mediator between the two sides. He last visited Moscow in July 2021.
As it turns out, India has been quietly stepping in for the past few months when power outages have occurred. In July, India balanced Russia by shipping grain from Black Sea ports.
Most of these messages have been sent quietly, and Delhi is establishing itself as a player with credibility on both sides. But, it didn’t always work.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered to help with peace talks in a call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last month. However, Zelenskyy rejected the offer, according to reports.
The report said that according to a statement released by Zelensky’s office, “Zelensky told him that Ukraine will not negotiate with Putin but that Ukraine is committed to a peaceful settlement through the conversation”. The statement indicated that Russia had deliberately undermined efforts at dialogue, he said.
But, as winter approaches in the conflict zone, there is a sense that both sides want to end the fighting before early next year, when they can regroup and resume fighting. Many see this as a potential truce, and Delhi could act as a mediator between the two sides.
For Delhi, both sides matter. This is the first winter in three years when Russian military transport lines have been hampered by the eight-month conflict in Ukraine, and, at the same time, Indian and Russian troops have been locked in the eastern border of Ladakh. Chinese.
For India, which depends on Russia for its defense equipment, it is the most important pillar of the relationship.
The new element is energy relations, as Russia is said to become India’s largest oil supplier by October 2022 as refiners increase the price of offshore oil. This added a new element to its relationship with Moscow, which did not go down well with Ukraine and its Western partners.
Jaishankar’s visit is expected to look at this aspect as well, and the official said it will be part of his talks with Manturov, his counterpart at the India Russia Joint Intergovernmental Commission on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation, IRIGC-TEC.
“Bilateral economic cooperation issues will of course, at various levels, be discussed,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday, ahead of the visit.
Also important is Modi’s turn to visit Russia this year, and if a visit is possible next month, Jaishankar will be there to lay the groundwork.
For Jaishankar’s visit, Putin was very vocal about Modi and India. He praised India by calling its citizens “talented” and “driven”, a week after he heaped praise on Modi and called him a “true patriot”.