NEW DELHI: An Excerpt from ‘Talking Point‘, with Ambassador P.S. Raghavan, Former Head of India’s National Security Advisory Board and Ex-Envoy to Russia and Seema Sirohi, Columnist at ‘The Economic Times’ in analysis with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.
Watch the complete conversation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rzF0Jq3770&t=27s
APR: To what extent is the former Soviet Union’s UN Security Council support for India over Kashmir still resonate in India?
PSR: You know, the past sets the tone for a relationship. There’s no doubt about that. But the past cannot sustain a relationship. Yes, the Soviet Union helped us plus there were mutual interests then. But you can sustain a relationship in the present only when it has relevance for the present and for the future. We need to be very clear about that. We can keep talking about the help given and they did give us a lot of help. That set the tone for a lot of what we did with the Soviet Union and then with Russia. Now there is a concrete consequence of that in the present, which is the defence dependence that people talk about. It comes out of that and that becomes a concrete and objective fact of the present, which governs our relationship. As Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it would be foolish of us not to build on a relationship that we had in the past to retain a friend in the UN Security Council, a permanent member of the UN Security Council. So these are objective facts coming out of the past which are obviously important.
SS: I would like to make one point about the UN Security Council. Lately, if you look at the past two, three years, Russia hasn’t been jumping to India’s Defence. Let’s be really honest. It’s more the U.S. with which India has cooperated on major issues like when the article 370 situation happened. It was the former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was approached by Minister Jaishankar and the U.S. made a statement which led to everybody else to fall in line. So they took the lead. Whether it’s sanctioning or the listing of Masood Azhar, or any of those things important to India, Russia has been rather quiet or helping China in the Security Council.
PSR: Let me first take on that point about Russia and the Security Council. It is true that we have not had Russia rooting for us on various issues in the Security Council. But, on the matter of 370, there was a very public appeal by Pakistan to Russia to take it up in the Security Council. There was a public statement by Lavrov, essentially saying that this is an internal matter of India and that it is justified within the Constitution of India, and therefore, Russia does not support it being taken up in the Security Council. So, I would still say that on matters of core importance to India, Russia has been helpful in its own way in the Security Council, but my larger point was that we need to have good relations with every permanent member of the Security Council, which may come of use at some point of time at various points of time. So that was the larger issue.