Moscow: EAM Jaishankar to hold crucial meetings with Russian ministers
External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar is expected to hold crucial meetings with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday, The Hindu reported. The visit to Russia by Jaishankar—the first since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war—is significant because speculations are also rife that India may act as a mediator in the conflict.
Why does this story matter?
- The development follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent praises for India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- So far, India has abstained from voting against Russia at the United Nations (UN) on the Ukraine conflict, which Moscow has appreciated.
- Notably, India maintained an independent position on the war even as the West pushed it to condemn Russia and sever diplomatic and economic ties with it.
Discussions will center on these issues
According to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement, the talks between Jaishankar and the Russian ministers will focus on trade and investments, transport and logistics, using national currencies in mutual settlements, and energy sector projects, particularly those in the Arctic shelf and the Russian Far East. Additionally, Jaishankar-Manturov will hold discussions regarding the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological, and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC).
India's move toward mediating the Russia-Ukraine conflict?
Jaishankar is also expected to discuss regional issues with Lavrov and raise India's worries about the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and the potential food and fuel shortages as a result of the hostilities and Western sanctions. Meanwhile, some reports in the US media say that PM Modi could play a mediating role between Russian President Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to end the war.
Russia is now biggest oil supplier of India
On the other hand, the latest data shows that Russia has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Iraq to become India's top oil supplier, rising from 43,400 barrels per day (bpd), or 0.2% of its total exports last year, to 9,35,556 bpd, about 22% of India's total intake this year. Moreover, central banks of both countries are involved in the development of the rupee-rouble payment system.
Putin's praises for India and Modi
Speaking at an event commemorating Russia's Unity Day, Putin last week said, "Let's look at India: a talented, very driven people with such a drive for internal development." Earlier, too, the Russian president hailed India and PM Modi for the developmental efforts. "A lot has been done under the leadership of Narendra Modi. He is a patriot... The future belongs to India," he said.
India-Russia bilateral ties
The Russian president had claimed there were no "outstanding issues" between India and Russia, two longtime allies. He wished for continued goodwill in the two nations' relations in the years to come. He claimed that Russia also increased the fertilizer supply to India 7.6 times upon PM Modi's request, indicating that economic cooperation between New Delhi and Moscow was also expanding.
A little more about progress in trade
Due to an increase in the imports of oil and fertilizers, trade between India and Russia has reached an all-time high. Only the first five months (April-August) of FY 2022-23 saw $18,229 million in trade between the two nations, according to The Indian Express. With this increase in trade, Russia has moved up from 25th place last year to become India's seventh-largest trading partner.