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Opinion

‘Independent links with countries’: India rejects Russian minister’s comments

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New Delhi on Friday rejected Russia’s foreign minister’s position that the West’s Indo-Pacific policies were aimed at entangling India in “anti-China games,” saying the country has an independent foreign policy based on its national interests.

India’s long-standing ties with Russia, including in the sphere of military-technical cooperation, are based on their own merits and New Delhi does not perceive the Indo-Pacific as an exclusive club directed against any country, the ministry spokesman said. of Foreign Affairs, Anurag Srivastava. .

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had created a stir in diplomatic circles by saying at a meeting of Russia’s state Council on International Affairs think tank on Tuesday that Western powers were promoting the Indo-Pacific strategy and Dialogue. Quadrilateral or Quad Security Council to engage India in “anti-China games.” At the same time, Lavrov said, the West is trying to undermine Russia’s association with India.

When asked about these comments at a weekly press conference, Srivastava said: “India has always pursued an independent foreign policy based on its national interests. India’s relationship with each country is independent of its relationships with third countries. “

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He added: “We hope this is well understood and appreciated by all our partners.”

India’s position on the Indo-Pacific had been “clearly delineated” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June 2018. “India does not see the Indo-Pacific region as a strategy or as a club of members or as a group seeking to dominate. It is not directed against any country. It represents a free, open and inclusive region, “said Srivastava.

Addressing Russia’s Council on International Affairs in Moscow, Lavrov had also said that the “very tough pressure” from the United States on India in connection with military-technical cooperation is part of efforts to undermine the partnership with Russia.

The comments were apparently a reference to the US threat to impose sanctions on India under the Countering US Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) over the $ 5.4 billion deal with Russia for defense systems. aerial S-400.

However, Srivastava said that India’s long-standing relations with Russia were characterized as a “special and privileged strategic partnership”, and 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of this strategic partnership. “Our relations with Russia are based on their own merits, including in the field of military-technical cooperation,” he said.

Russia currently accounts for more than 60 percent of the inventory of India’s armed forces despite New Delhi’s efforts to acquire weapons systems from more diverse sources, including the United States, Israel and France. The United States has lobbied India in recent years to acquire more US military equipment.

While India has acquired platforms such as Chinook and Apache helicopters and C-17 heavy lift aircraft and has leased Sea Guardian MQ-9B drones to the US, it has also signed major agreements with Russia to acquire S-400 systems and assault rifles. .

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