Russia is not a threat to the region and India wants to remain neutral, Kanwal Sibal tells RT
India “prevailed” ensuring that a joint statement with the US, Japan and Australia does not mention or condemn Russia for the conflict in Ukraine, former foreign minister Kanwal Sibal told RT. Sibal explained that the eyes of the “Quad” must remain fixed on the Indo-Pacific, and New Delhi has nothing to say against Moscow.
Leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue issued a joint statement on Tuesday following a summit in Tokyo, Japan. The statement largely focused on security issues in the South China Sea and Asia more broadly, and Ukraine was briefly mentioned as a “Tragic Conflict” and one “humanitarian crisis” to which the four leaders discussed their responses.
The leaders of the Quad referenced “respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity”, but did not condemn or even name Moscow.
Sibal, a veteran diplomat who served as India’s foreign minister between 2001 and 2002, told RT on Tuesday it was not an accidental oversight.
“Russia is not a threat to the stability and security of the Indo-Pacific countries”, he explained. “Therefore, bringing in Russia or the Ukrainian conflict… will be a problem because at least India will not accept this kind of broadening of the Indo-Pacific agenda.”
As India continues to invest in the Russian Far East and continues to buy Russian oil, a separate statement released on Monday by the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework – a coalition of 13 Pacific nations convened by the United States – made no mention of Ukraine or Russia either.
In these two declarations, India has “did not allow the inclusion of Ukraine or Russia in the sense of any condemnation…apart from reference to the humanitarian situation,” Sibal continued.
While a White House reading of US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday included a condemnation of “Russia’s unjustifiable war against Ukraine” by Biden, Modi offered no such statement.
“India said nothing about Ukraine, not at all”, Sibal said about the bilateral statement. Regarding the Quad press release, he added that “India’s view has prevailed, and we will not accept any condemnation of Russia or any negative reference to Russia.”
As a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, India equipped its army with Soviet weapons without ever entering into an alliance with the USSR. According to some analysts, 85% of India’s major weapons systems to date are of Russian or Soviet origin, and in military, economic and political matters, New Delhi and Moscow still officially describe their relationship as a “special and privileged strategic partnership.”
While the United States has offered India new weapons systems and Biden has urged Modi not to increase his purchases of Russian oil, the White House has so far been unable to do so. accept in New Delhi sanctions against Moscow or a formal condemnation of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
There are “no questions at all” of India sanctioning Russia, Sibal said, adding that “Russia has never sanctioned us in history, but the West has sanctioned us for years and years and years.”
“India will abide by all sanctions approved by the United Nations Security Council,” he concluded. “Other than that, no. India will not.
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