London (Times Of Ocean)- UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Thursday that strengthening ties with India is more important than ever in the context of the Ukraine conflict.
As part of a wider diplomatic push in response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, she made these remarks during an official visit to India.
“Strengthening relations with India is more important than it has ever been, precisely because we are living in a more insecure world…because we have (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s appalling invasion of Ukraine and violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Truss said at the first India-UK Strategic Futures Forum shortly after holding talks with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
In response to a question about New Delhi’s drive to procure Russian oil at discounted prices, she said: “I have outlined the UK’s position on sanctions and the fact that we are ending our reliance on Russian oil…India is a sovereign nation.” I won’t tell India what to do.”
UK will not dictate to sovereign India what to do, says Liz Truss, as world powers try to push New Delhi on its stance in the Ukraine war.
Jaishankar and Truss discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest, including the Ukraine situation, the Indian Foreign Ministry said.
“On Ukraine, India reiterated that the immediate cessation of violence and return to dialogue and diplomacy is the key to long-term peace in the region,” said the statement.
Indian middle-ground diplomacy toward the Russia-Ukraine war has led to a flurry of visits from dignitaries from around the world, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who arrived in New Delhi on Thursday and will meet Jaishankar on Friday.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China also visited unannounced last week, the first senior Chinese official to visit since Himalayan border clashes, which flared up in May 2020, severely strained relations between the two Asian giants.
New Delhi has historically been an ally of Russia, but it has been growing closer to Washington in recent years. New Delhi called for a peaceful solution to the crisis after Russia declared war on Ukraine on Feb. 24 but refrained from openly criticizing Moscow.
There are already clear differences between the US and India on the Ukraine war.
Last week, the U.S. president Joe Biden said that India is “somewhat shaky” in combating Russia despite being a member of the Washington-led Quad group.
On Thursday, Daleep Singh, the US deputy national security adviser for international economics, met with Harsh Shringla, the Indian foreign secretary.
“What we would not like to see is a rapid acceleration of India’s imports from Russia as it relates to energy or any other exports that are currently being prohibited by the US or by other aspects of the international sanctions regime,” Singh told reporters in the Indian capital, according to local daily Hindustan Times.
The Netherlands’ foreign affairs and defense adviser, Geoffrey van Leeuwen, also met with India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, earlier in the day in New Delhi.
“Discussed the situation in Ukraine, Afghanistan, other regional developments as well as topics from our extensive bilateral agenda. Next week the president of India will visit the Netherlands,” he wrote on Twitter.
Jens Ploetner, the chief foreign policy adviser to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, also met with Indian officials in New Delhi.
As Russia attacks Ukraine, India’s beeline for dignitaries “clearly shows its greater importance,” a former Indian diplomat told Anadolu Agency.
“Diplomatically, India is important. With war raging in Europe, which is a major international development, obviously governments need to consult with India,” he said.
“There are two sides in this conflict – Russia and Ukraine and Russia and NATO. Both are keen to communicate their views, both privately and publicly, to the government of India.”
He said Moscow’s “main concern would be to ensure India remains friendly and supportive … and does not yield to pressure from the West.”
“As far as the West is concerned, their objective is to explain things at greater depth to the Indian government and request India to shift its position and become more supportive and sympathetic,” Bhatia added.
Delhi will listen carefully to both sides and take a position keeping its national interests in mind, he said.
“India is going to essentially project that values are very important to us, international law and principles are very important … India will do what other countries do; take a position that aligns with its national interests,” said Bhatia, who is associated with the Mumbai-based think tank Gateway House.
“Whatever position India has taken so far, or may take in the future, will emanate from its adherence to the principle of strategic autonomy,” he concluded.