Rejecting any mediation by Russia or other countries, India’s Ambassador to Moscow said that tensions between India and Pakistan appear to be de-escalating.
“The situation is already stabilising and stabilising rather quickly,” Venkatesh Verma, one of India’s most senior diplomats, based in Moscow, during an interview to agency RIA-Novosti on Saturday. “India has clearly stated that it is not interested in an escalation of the situation. And the best way to achieve a normal state of affairs in the region resides in the actions of Pakistan in the fight against terrorist groups.”
Reacting to reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had offered to mediate as well as provided a venue for talks between India and Pakistan, when he spoke to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on March 1, Mr. Verma said that no “formal offer of mediation” had been received by India.
“I want to emphasize that we did not receive a formal offer of mediation. And even we do, we will not accept it. So far, no country has offered to mediate in resolving the conflict,” Mr. Verma affirmed. According to the Russian MFA statement, Mr. Lavrov had expressed “Moscow’s readiness to promote the de-escalation of tensions and the lack of an alternative to resolving any differences between Islamabad and New Delhi by politico-diplomatic means.”
On Thursday, at the height of tensions following the IAF strike on Balakot and the attempt by Pakistan Air Force to bomb key military installations in Jammu and Kashmir, which subsequently led to the capture of Indian pilot Wg Cdr Abhinandan, President Vladimir Putin had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the discussion, Mr. Putin had “expressed hope for a prompt settlement” of the “crisis” while offering support for India in dealing with terrorism.
In a separate statement, Russian Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Senator Konstantin Kosachev went a step further and said Russia could be a “direct mediator in a trilateral format”. The statements from Moscow have been read with some disquiet in New Delhi, as it denotes an attempt at balancing between Pakistan’s demand for international intervention and India’s demand for Pakistan to act against terrorist groups. Since 2014, Moscow has built new ties with Islamabad, driven by military exchanges, exercises, as well as cooperation on the current Afghan-Taliban talks.
“In our opinion, the role of Russia may also consist in influencing Pakistan so that it does not allow terrorist groups to use its territory,” Mr. Verma said when asked what India hopes from Russia. The comments on mediation come even as credible reports emerged that leaders of the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had played a key role in diffusing the situation on Wednesday.