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Hours before Russia’s Lavrov lands, US Dy NSA urges India not to enhance ties with Moscow

New Delhi: Hours before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and other key Indian officials, the US deputy national security advisor for international economics, Daleep Singh, has cautioned India against enhancing ties with Moscow, ThePrint has learnt.

Singh, who was on a two-day visit to India that concluded Thursday, is believed to have apprised India of the sanctions imposed by the US on Russia and their long-term impact during his meetings with Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, sources told ThePrint.

Sources also said that both sides also discussed the importance of holding US-India 2+2 talks for the first time under the Joe Biden administration. 

During his meetings, Singh is believed to have also informed India about the impact of secondary sanctions kicking in if India tries to do business with Russia.

The US has been particularly miffed with India ever since New Delhi indicated that it would buy more oil from Russia, sources said. 

In an interview with CNN-News18, Singh also discussed the possible consequences for India of Russia growing more dependent on China as a result of the war, and of Russian military capabilities being degraded by sanctions.

“The more Russia becomes China’s junior partner, the more leverage China gains over Russia, the less and less favourable that is for India’s strategic posture. Does anyone think that if China breaches the Line of Actual Control, that Russia would now come to India’s defence? I don’t,” he said. 

“And then take Russia’s military. Our sanctions and the sanctions we are doing with 30 other countries across the world are meant to disable and degrade Russia’s military capability, both in Ukraine and in terms of exporting defensive assistance to other countries. We want to be upfront with India about that, and to be a partner as it accelerates diversification. We can do that,” he added.

Apart from the earlier economic sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war, the US and other western countries imposed another slew of economic restrictions on 400 Russian elites, members of the Duma (legislature) and Russian defence firms on 24 March.

“The ruble has depreciated substantially, and is expected by markets to weaken further. The Moscow Stock Exchange closed for weeks. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation has doubled interest rates to 20 per cent and companies are being forced to turn over foreign exchange for rubles to provide the Russian government hard currency,” said a statement issued by the White House last week.

Another White House statement that announced Singh’s arrival to India said, “Singh will consult closely with counterparts on the consequences of Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine and mitigating its impact on the global economy.”

Singh, who is the G20 sherpa — an emissary who lays the groundwork for an international summit — for the US, also met Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla Thursday.

“Discussed US-India economic cooperation and strategic partnership. Look forward to working together on global issues of mutual interest, including in G20,” said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs.

As Singh departed, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov arrived in India with the objective of enhancing business and defence ties.

Dutch NSA meets Doval

On the same day, Geoffrey Van Leeuwen, security and foreign policy advisor to the prime minister of the Netherlands, met his Indian counterpart, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval,  to discuss Ukraine and India’s stand on the issue as the war stretches beyond a month.

“NSA and his Dutch counterpart discussed recent geopolitical developments in their respective regions. Both of them underlined the importance for India and the Netherlands to remain engaged on these issues and intensify their contacts, including through policy dialogues on issues of mutual interest,” said a source.

The President of India will pay a state visit to the Netherlands on 4-7 April, the source said.

Also read: Lavrov comes calling as Russia seeks to counter-pressure India & protect its interests

Source: The Print

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