South Asia and Beyond

“If Germany, Europe Choose To Build China Relationships, Why Can’t India Do The Same With Russia?”

NEW DELHI: On ‘Talking Point‘, Ambassador Pankaj Saran, India’s Former Deputy National Security Adviser and Former Envoy to Russia in conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.

On India playing potential facilitator for dialogue and diplomacy in the Russia-Ukraine war, Ambassador Saran points to External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S. Jaishankar “clarifying what he’s talking about more is the building of a certain kind of public opinion in the international community, on the need to de-escalate or to reduce the collateral damage on the rest of the world. In particular, the global south”. On leaks in the U.S. media, he asks “is it the intent that India somehow prevailes upon Russia, or is it to rope in India into this exercise?” The former Deputy NSA says, “there’s a lot of kite flying in this business. And this is open season for this kind of thing” pointing to “a huge difference between talking of countries and talking of individuals” as mediators or facilitators.

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While German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a Zeitenwende — “turning of the times,” in February after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has committed $1.16 billion in military aid to Ukraine, he also hoped in talks with Xi Jinping in Beijing this month to “further develop” cooperation between the deeply intertwined economies. Ambassador Saran says, “I’m not sure the Russians would be very pleased to see the German Chancellor being feted in Beijing, considering Russia and China are supposed to be such close strategic partners. The second thing is, if Germany chooses to build its own relationship with China, there is no reason why it should have any objection, or difficulty with India doing the same thing with Russia. And that applies not only to Germany, but to the entire European Union. If you can continue your relationships with China. We can also do the same with Russia for our own national interests”.

Watch this interview for more perspective on the EAM’s meetings in Moscow, India-Russia relations, the position the Russia-Ukraine war is at with the former withdrawing or making a “strategic regrouping” from Kherson, buffer zones between the two, winter, fears of nuclear escalation, how results in the U.S. midterms “could possibly make funding of weapons to Ukraine slightly more difficult”, Russia becoming India’s largest supplier of crude oil, the proposed G-7 price cap, India’s defence ecosystem, the Russia-China “no limits” partnership and how one of the “hallmarks of a major power is that it can at the same time conduct different kinds of relationships, and it has the ability to not get into a situation where it has to choose”.