Russia was doing its utmost to make sure that its two great friends and brothers – India and China – live in peace with one another, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has said. Speaking at a news conference, Lavrov on Monday also said that the Indo-Pacific region strategy of the US will not affect close partnership between Russia and India.
"We are friends with India. We are doing our utmost to make sure that India and China, our two great friends and brothers, live in peace with one another," he said while responding to a question. "This is our policy which we promote not only in the context of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) or BRICS. We have a special trilateral format, a 'troika' or RIC Russia, India and China," the top Russian diplomat said.
China and India have been locked in a military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since May last year. Several rounds of talks between the two countries to resolve the standoff have not yielded any concrete outcome. Lavrov said that in the last meeting at the level of ministers in Moscow in September 2020, the three countries adopted a joint communique recognising their role in promoting peace, stability and security in Asia and the world and confirming the cooperation among them.
"We all are wise enough to see that if a strategy is indeed intended to be not inclusive but rather divisive, then the wisdom of our countries will certainly prevail. And in no way will our closest cooperation and partnership with India be affected, he said, referring to the US' Indo-Pacific strategy. "India is our very close, very strategic and very privileged partner. Take the economy, take innovations, high technology or military and technical cooperation, India is one of our closest partners in all these areas. We have close political coordination in the United Nations and within BRICS," he said.
"We discussed with our Indian friends, at the level of the president and the prime minister, at the level of ministers, experts and consultants, we discussed, in a very open way, both practical things and conceptual issues, including issues emanating from the new concept which is called the Indo-Pacific Strategy," he said. "We have reasons to believe that when the Australians, the Japanese and the Americans promote this format and, well, they almost openly say that this is important to ensure stability in the South China Sea and this is important to contain China.
"We discussed this with my good friend, Foreign Minister of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and our Indian colleagues fully understand that some countries would like to use the Indo-Pacific Strategy in a manner that is not inclusive and that is confrontational," Lavrov said. "I know that India is not going to move this Indo-Pacific cooperation in a way that would be not positive and not constructive," he said.
India advocates a rules-based Indo-Pacific with freedom of navigation, open connectivity, and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. According to the US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific, India's preferred partner on security issues is the United States. The two cooperate to preserve maritime security and counter Chinese influence in South and Southeast Asia and other regions of mutual concern. India maintains the capacity to counter border provocations by China.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. Beijing has also built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are also vital to global trade.