U.S. hopes India will use its relationship with Russia to end Ukraine war

India has a “long, complex” relationship with Russia and can use this influence to support an end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, says Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu

February 25, 2023 01:32 pm | Updated February 26, 2023 12:03 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. File photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. File photo | Photo Credit: AFP

The United States hopes that India will use its relationship with Russia to end the conflict in Ukraine, a senior U.S. diplomat has said, on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have said before, the Secretary [of State of the U.S., Antony Blinken] has said India has had a long and complicated history with Russia going back to the Cold War days – that is a deep and sustained relationship over many decades,” Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu told reporters on a briefing call on February 24.

“It is our hope that India will use that influence with Russia to support an end to this conflict, and as Foreign Minister Jaishankar has said, end to the conflict according to the principles of the U.N. Charter [on] territorial integrity and sovereignty,” said Mr Lu.

Mr. Blinken is due in New Delhi on March 1 for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

Prior to his arrival in India, he will visit Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for a meeting of the C5+ 1 (i.e., these countries, plus the U.S., Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) in Astana on February 28.

Also read: India abstains in U.N. vote underscoring need for just, lasting peace in Ukraine

In response to a question on whether Mr Blinken will try and convince India and the Central Asian countries to align more with the U.S. on the Ukraine conflict, Mr. Lu described India and the Central Asian countries as having “long, complex” relations with Russia.

“I don’t think they’re going to end those relations anytime soon. But we are talking to them about the role that they can play in this conflict,” he said, noting that these countries had sent humanitarian assistance sent to Ukraine and spoken in favour of territorial integrity.

“We may not share the same approach every day on Ukraine, but I think we do share the goal that this conflict end, and it end based on principles in the UN Charter,” Mr Lu said.

On Thursday, India was among 32 countries that cast an abstention vote at the United Nations on a resolution criticising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calling for a “ just and lasting peace”. This has been in line with almost all the votes it has cast on resolutions since Russia invaded Ukraine just over a year ago.

In New Delhi, Mr Blinken will meet with Mr. Jaishankar and, as per Mr. Lu, there will be discussions on the bilateral relationship, the G20, as well as on the Quad (the group comprised of India, the U.S., Australia and Japan) and the recently launched India-U.S. Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET).

India and the U.S. have been having “serious conversations” about China, Mr. Lu said, including in the aftermath of the U.S. downing of a Chinese balloon floating over North America, allegedly used for surveillance purposes. He expected these conversations to continue.

In response to a question on Beijing providing loans to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Mr. Lu said the U.S. was very concerned that these would be used for “coercive leverage”  and that Washington was talking to New Delhi and others in the region about helping debtor countries.

Quad FM meeting on March 3

Quad Foreign Ministers are set to convene on March 3 along the margins of the G20. These ministers will also have a public discussion at the Raisina Dialogue, following the meeting. The Dialogue is co-hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank closely tied to the government.

The officials on Friday’s briefing call did not confirm whether meetings between Mr. Blinken and his Russian and Chinese counterparts would take place in New Delhi, but stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication open.  

Mr. Blinken had met his Chinese counterpart, State Councillor Wang Yi on February 18 in Munich and had warned China about providing material support to Russia in the war.

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