Welcoming India’s ‘independent’ stand at the Security Council on its moves on eastern Ukraine, Russia’s acting Ambassador said the new sanctions imposed on Russia would not affect delivery of the S-400 missile system and other defence equipment India has purchased.
He also stressed that the ongoing visit by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to Moscow would in no way affect ties between India and Russia, adding that the Pakistan-Russia partnership does not envisage a defence relationship at present, and Russia stands firm on its policy that Kashmir is a bilateral dispute.
A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the recognition of two eastern Ukrainian enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk, the diplomat set out the Russian position behind the move that has sparked outrage worldwide, and attracted punitive financial sanctions and severe condemnation from the U.S., the European Union, the U.K., Japan and Australia.
At the Security Council, U.N. Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti had said India has “deep concerns” about the developments in the region, stopping short of criticising Russian actions.
“Russia welcomes the Indian position expressed several times in this regard [Ukraine] because India is acting according to its status of a global power and takes a balanced and independent position,” said Roman Babushkin, Charge d’Affaires at the Russian Embassy in Delhi. He said the two countries had discussed the situation at various bilateral and multilateral levels, including at the U.N., and that “Indian partners are well aware and clearly understand why this [Mr. Putin’s announcement] happened. Mr. Babushkin even suggested that, in time, Russia hopes that its friends and partners “including India” would also recognise the “new republics” of Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
According to the Russian diplomat, U.S.’s new financial sanctions, in addition to previous sanctions like the CAATSA law, would have no bearing on the $5–billion S-400 missile system agreement, which is being delivered to India. “The project is being implemented according to our agreements and timelines discussed, and sanctions would not affect this.”
Mr. Khan arrived in Moscow for a two-day visit that had been announced earlier and is due to discuss economic and energy ties along with regional developments with Mr. Putin on Thursday. When asked, Mr. Babushkin said India had not raised concerns about the visit of Mr. Khan, which is the first by a Pakistani Prime Minister after 23 years.
In an interview to a Russian Television channel this week, Mr. Khan was very critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, accusing the ruling party of following a ‘racist’ ideology towards minorities and criticising the government’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir.
“We have independent relations with Pakistan — we have a bilateral and economic agenda — and share common platforms like at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). We expect there will be exchanges on Afghanistan as well,” Mr. Babushkin told The Hindu. “But we don’t expect the announcement of defence deals, and on Kashmir, our position is unchanged.”
In a statement earlier this month, the Russian Foreign Ministry had repeated its policy of “non-interference” in Kashmir, which it sees as a bilateral dispute to be resolved by India and Pakistan.