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India refuses to give in to Western pressure and negotiates with Moscow

Photo posted on the Twitter account of Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during his meeting with Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, in New Delhi, India, April 1, 2022.

The pressure exerted by the United States and the Europeans for the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to amend his position vis-à-vis Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine he refuses to condemn, has had little effects on the position of New Delhi: the Indians ignore the threats of sanctions brandished by the West and continue trade negotiations with the Russians.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has just spent two days in the Indian capital, March 31 and 1er April. He was received there not only by his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, but also by Narendra Modi himself, who devoted 40 minutes to him. The gesture is significant: the Indian Prime Minister does not intend to let Westerners dictate his conduct.

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Russia is its main arms supplier and historical friend; India needs these armaments to counter the Chinese and Pakistani threat. The day before, Mr. Modi had ignored the visit of the British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, like that, the previous days of the representatives of Japan, Austria, Greece and Mexico. Nor did he grant an audience to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Bearer of a “personal message” from Putin

Sergei Lavrov, who was making his first official visit abroad since the start of the war, after a stopover in China, hailed “balanced approach” of his Indian partner. “We appreciate that India is approaching this situation taking into account all the facts and not just unilaterally”, did he declare. Earlier in the day, he said he was carrying a ” personal message “ from Vladimir Putin to the Indian Prime Minister.

Once again, Narendra Modi contented himself with calling for a “rapid end to violence”. According to the official statement, the Prime Minister expressed India’s willingness to “contribute in any way to peace efforts”. New Delhi has regularly abstained from voting at the UN for resolutions condemning Russia, inviting the parties to dialogue, as if there were no aggressor, no premeditated and unprovoked attack.

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Sergei Lavrov did not hide the aims of his visit: the two countries seek to “overcome obstacles”, i.e. Western financial sanctions. They want to set up a payment mechanism in national currencies, ruble and rupee, not denominated in dollars, to allow India to buy large volumes of Russian oil at a reduced price. “We are ready to supply whatever India wants to buy from Russia”assured Mr. Lavrov, particularly in the defense sector.

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