Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will travel to Delhi this week for official meetings, as the war in Ukraine has been winding down for a month, sources have confirmed. The visit, the first by a senior Russian official since President Vladimir Putin declared war on the neighboring country, comes amid a flurry of travel by several leaders of the Western-backed sanctions regime seeking change in the position of India, which did not criticize Moscow. for the invasion.
Mr. Lavrov’s visit is expected to focus on strategic issues resulting from the war, as well as specific discussions on the purchase of Russian oil, payment mechanisms, in view of the sanctions against Russian banks and the exclusion SWIFT, and possible disruptions in the supply of military equipment. The Modi government told parliament last week it was considering cut-price Russian oil offers and a special inter-ministerial group headed by the finance ministry is looking into payment problems for Indian importers and exporters that stem from the war and Western sanctions.
The Bank team will visit India
Sources said The Hindu that there will be technical discussions between the Russian Central Bank or the Bank of Russia and the Reserve Bank of India this week, and that a team will visit India before Mr. Lavrov’s visit, to discuss more before setting up payment structures.
India would also seek clarification and assurances from Russia on the timely delivery of spare parts and components for the systems in use and on the ongoing deals including assault rifles S-400 and Ak-203, as well as on streamlining the ruble-ruble payment system. for any future purchase.
Ahead of Mr. Lavrov’s visit, the new Russian ambassador Denis Alipov last week called three of the most senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs: Secretary (West) Sanjay Verma, Secretary (East) Saurabh Kumar and Secretary (Relations economic) Dammu Ravi. In tweets, Alipov said he had exchanges on Russian-Indian cooperation at the United Nations, G-20 and other multilateral platforms.
Lavrov’s visit will be seen as an overture to India as US and European allies increase pressure to ‘isolate’ Russia, increase defense exports to Ukraine and neighboring countries and call on other countries to support their efforts.
US President Joe Biden said last week he was discussing the possibility of ousting Russia from the G-20 group, with the next summit due to be held in Bali, Indonesia in November this year. When asked, the officials said India, which would host the G20 summit in 2023, was unlikely to support such a move.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Mexican Foreign Minister Ebrard will also be in Delhi midweek, while Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz will arrive ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit next Sunday. In addition, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh are expected to travel to the United States to meet their counterparts Antony Blinken and General Lloyd Austin later this month, where possible US sanctions on the purchase of the S400 could arise.
“The Common Element”
Lavrov’s visit will follow a few days after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Delhi and discussed the Ukraine issue, among others with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Mr. Jaishankar, where Mr Jaishankar said the “common element” in thinking about the crisis was the need for an immediate ceasefire and a return to dialogue and diplomacy. Lavrov is also expected to travel to Beijing for bilateral talks and a conference on Afghanistan.
So far, India has abstained from all United Nations resolutions critical of Russia and called for talks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke on the phone several times with Mr Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky between February 24 and March 7 as Indian students were brought back from Ukraine, and diplomats suggested that he could help mediate a resolution.