India-China Standoff: Russian twist to the border tensions

Sharanya Gupta| New Delhi

In a scathing comment on the Quadrilateral (Quad) grouping, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that the Western powers are engaging India in an “aggressive and devious anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies”.

The Russian foreign minister’s comment came at a time when India and China are engaged in a tense standoff at the Line of Actual Control for over six months.

The West is also seeking to “undermine” Russia’s close partnership and privileged relationship with India, Lavrov said.

“This is the goal of the US’s very tough pressure on New Delhi in the MTC (Military Technical Cooperation) area,” he said at the general meeting of the Russian International Affairs Council.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that ties with China have ‘significantly damaged’ in 2020 due to the Galwan violence and the ongoing buildup which has ‘completely changed national sentiment’.

There also exists a perception in the External Affairs Ministry that the Russian concerns are an outcome of its proximity to China.

“The West, led by the US, has launched a game, rejecting the objective trends towards the formation of a multipolar world”, Lavrov said. “It has postponed Russia and China for later and is trying to draw all others into a unipolar world by any means possible. For our part, we will promote a unifying agenda,” he added.

“The G20 is the only mechanism outside the UN Security Council where it is still possible to come to terms based on a balance of interests. It represents the so-called G7, the BRICS countries and the states that sooner share the philosophy of BRICS than that of the G7. The G20 is a venue where there is still hope for promoting more balanced approaches that can then be used in formal international legal structures. Our official contacts with the West have been frozen by the West. This is the line towards the prevalence of the unipolar approach. They believe that ‘arrogant Russia’ has been ‘isolated’ and ‘punished’,” Lavrov said.

This is not the first time that the Russian minister has criticised the Quad – the strategic forum of the United States, Japan, Australia and India. Earlier this year in January, Lavrov had spoken on similar lines, although later in an address at the Raisina Dialogue, Lavrov strongly backed India and Brazil’s bid for a permanent membership in the UN Security Council.