Ukraine, a major theme of Jaishankar’s visit to Washington

U.S. has no specific message for India to take to Russian President Putin

April 13, 2022 11:13 pm | Updated April 14, 2022 12:04 am IST - Washington DC

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar speaks during a news conference during the fourth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue at the State Department, in Washington, DC.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar speaks during a news conference during the fourth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue at the State Department, in Washington, DC. | Photo Credit: PTI

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Washington DC spent a significant part of his visit focused on discussing Russia’s war on Ukraine and the consequences of that — particularly the energy and food insecurity caused by the conflict and the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, he said.

“Obviously, a lot of our time went to the situation in Ukraine,” Mr. Jaishankar told members of the Indian press at a news conference on the final day of his visit to the capital. The Minister participated in the India-U.S. ‘2+2’ foreign and defence minister dialogues on Monday and held meetings with Biden administration officials on Tuesday. The list included U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

Biden administration officials did not have a specific communication or message for India to pass on to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Mr. Jaishankar.

“No, there was no specific message or...communication which was suggested to us,” Mr. Jaishankar said in response to a question from The Hindu about whether there was any specific message for Mr. Putin or ask of India in this regard, including during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden, held virtually on Monday.

“Our discussions with the Americans was more about...what is it we can all do to, first of all, to encourage an early cessation of hostilities,” he said.

Mr. Modi has spoken with Mr. Putin as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, multiple times — a point he had brought up with Mr. Biden on Monday. The U.S. has also repeatedly urged countries that have better relations with Moscow (such as New Delhi) to leverage those relationships to get Mr. Putin to stop attacking Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Mr. Jaishankar said that at this point in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, India was bringing to the process, the “goodwill of having relations with multiple parties” such as Russia, Ukraine, Europe, America, “many of the neighbours of Russia and Ukraine”.

‘Intent is to be helpful’

“And our intent is to be helpful, and we would like to be helpful,” Mr. Jaishankar said, adding that this was because it was good for the world, for the countries in conflict and good from India’s national interest perspective. “We are all hurting from this conflict in different ways.”

On the Countering America Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA,  a U.S. law, which seeks to sanction — with the possibility of a waiver — certain transactions with the Russian military and other entities, Mr. Jaishankar said it was a matter for the Americans to resolve.

“That’s essentially for them to sort out,” Mr. Jaishankar said. “It is their legislation and whatever has to be done is to be done by the [Biden] administration.” The U.S. government is currently considering whether to sanction India or waive sanctions for New Delhi’s purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile defence system from Moscow.

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