India, Russia are consistent opponents of illegitimate unilateral sanctions: Lavrov

“We will present an unbiased factual picture of the act of terrorism — the bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the EU and NATO zone of responsibility,” the Foreign Ministry of Russia said.

March 01, 2023 12:49 pm | Updated March 02, 2023 12:26 am IST - NEW DELHI

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. File

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. File | Photo Credit: AP

India and Russia are “consistent opponents of illegitimate unilateral sanctions”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here on Wednesday.

Delivering a speech at the New Delhi World Book Fair, Mr. Lavrov recollected the correspondence between Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi and called for a “polycentric” world order.

Ahead of Mr. Lavrov’s arrival, the Russian Foreign Ministry said he would take up the suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream II gas pipeline during the “regular” segment of the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Thursday.

“We are united by a firm commitment to building a more just and democratic polycentric world order. Moscow and New Delhi are consistent opponents of such neo-colonial practices as illegitimate unilateral sanctions, threats and other types of pressure on sovereign states,” Mr. Lavrov said, articulating Russia’s position against the Western sanctions that were imposed after President Vladimir Putin launched the attack on Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

“We consistently stand for respect for the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world, for the inalienable right of peoples to independently determine their own paths of development,” Mr. Lavrov said. He also met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar soon after his arrival. He is expected to present Russia’s ongoing military offensive in Ukraine forcefully during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Ahead of his arrival, the Russian Foreign Ministry hinted that Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine would dominate Mr. Lavrov’s agenda in Delhi. “We are set to clearly state Russia’s assessments of the current security, energy and food situation. We will present an unbiased factual picture of the act of terrorism — the bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the EU and NATO zone of responsibility, and the illegal seizing of Russian humanitarian fertilizer shipments designated for African and other needy countries,” the Foreign Ministry said in a comment about Mr Lavrov’s agenda at the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting. .

Russia reiterated support for the Indian Presidency of G-20 and also said that it will work “together with Indian colleagues to achieve the desired result,” adding, “at the same time, we will firmly defend Russia’s fundamental interests and an international world order based on the central role of the UN and international law”.

“We will strongly promote recognition of the new global realities that assert a multipolar system of relations between states,” the Ministry said.

Mr. Lavrov participated in the “Conversation over dinner” on Wednesday evening which was attended by several other Foreign Ministers of G-20 member countries including the host, Mr. Jaishankar.

Mr. Lavrov’s visit coincides with the intensification of the war in Ukraine with both sides carrying out fresh rounds of attacks on each other’s targets. Mr. Lavrov’s presence in Delhi is being watched keenly as he has been the chief firefighter for Kremlin at international platforms since Mr. Putin launched the war against Ukraine in February 2022.

Mr. Lavrov’s presence in last year’s G-20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Bali had created headlines as several delegates from the Western countries had vocally protested against Russian attack on Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry gave a hint of Mr. Lavrov’s strategy at the events saying, “The entire world is suffering from the cynical revelry of illegal sanctions, the artificial breakup of cross-border supply chains, the imposition of notorious price ceilings and, in effect, from attempts to steal natural resources.”

The Russian Foreign Minister is expected to engage the Indian side to “further advance cooperation”. During his three-day stay here the two sides are likely to discuss, the situation in Afghanistan, trade and investments, transport and logistics and “use of national currencies in mutual settlements as well as promising projects in the energy sector”, the Foreign Ministry said.

The two sides will also discuss Indian Chairmanship at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the other big summit that is also expected to be held here later in the year.

During the latter part of his March 1-3 visit, Mr. Lavrov is scheduled to participate in the Raisina Dialogue, the annual dialogue forum organised by the Observer Research Foundation.

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