Ahead of India’s presidency of the UN Security Council in December, India and Russia agreed to “deepen cooperation” on counter-terrorism issues and “enhance bilateral coordination” at the United Nations, statements issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The statements followed talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and Secretary (West) Sanjay Verma in New Delhi, and come four days after India abstained from yet another vote at the UN General Assembly that called for reparations to be paid by Russia for the war in Ukraine. Apart from a few procedural votes, India has refused to support any vote at the UN Security Council, UN General Assembly and other UN agencies that have criticised Russia in the past nine months, since President Vladimir Putin first ordered strikes on Ukraine in February this year.
“The consultations reaffirmed mutual commitment to further strengthen bilateral coordination and constructive cooperation at the UN platform on the basis of its Charter and in line with the special and privileged strategic partnership between Moscow and New Delhi,” a statement issued in Moscow said after the talks, the third such UN consultations between India and Russia in the past year, adding that they had discussed the situation in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, and conflict on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
The two sides also discussed India’s presidency of the UNSC in the month of December, which will be India’s last month in the UNSC, as its two-year elected tenure comes to an end. Among other events, India plans to chair a special briefing on challenges to the global counter-terrorism architecture on December 15, and Mr. Verma briefed Mr. Vershinin on India’s “priorities” during the month, the MEA said. While the MEA has not confirmed details yet, it is understood that New Delhi plans to send a senior leader to New York for the session with officials involved in the planning making preparations for the possibility of even Prime Minister Narendra Modi or External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar travelling to chair it, sources said.
“Both sides held wide-ranging discussions on issues on the UN Security Council agenda and recent developments. They agreed to deepen cooperation on counter-terrorism at UN and other multilateral platforms,” the MEA statement on the India-Russia talks added.
The timing of the talks was also significant as it came in the same week as tensions over Ukraine flared between Russia and NATO over missile strikes and an explosion in Poland that killed two persons on Wednesday. The tensions overshadowed the G-20 summit in Bali, where despite efforts by India, Indonesia and a few other countries to temper the language of the G-20 joint statement, the communique adopted contained fairly critical language condemning the war in Ukraine, and referred to the UN resolutions deploring Russia’s actions that it said “most G-20 countries” supported.
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister also called on Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra during the visit and briefed him on Russia’s position. The Russian statement said during the talks, “special attention” was also paid to the problems of UN peacekeeping, an area where India has frequently raised concerns at the UN, especially after the deaths of Indian personnel this year.