Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida failed to persuade India to take a similar position over the Ukraine crisis as its partners the US, Japan and Australia in the Quad mechanism during his meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Tellingly, the joint statement published following the meeting did not mention Russia, let alone imposing sanctions against Russia. Paragraph 10 of the Joint Statement said:
"The Prime Ministers expressed their serious concern about the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and assessed its broader implications, particularly to the Indo-Pacific region. They emphasized that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. They underscored the importance of safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine and acknowledged active efforts of the IAEA towards it. They reiterated their call for an immediate cessation of violence and noted that there was no other choice but the path of dialogue and diplomacy for resolution of the conflict. The Leaders affirmed that they would undertake appropriate steps to address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine."
Although Kishida pushed Modi on Saturday to take a tougher line on Russia over the Ukraine issue during his first visit to India after he took office, the joint statement issued later showed that the Japanese lobbying did not meet the expectations of Washington and Canberra as none of other three Quad members carries the weight to persuade their ally India to sacrifice its own national interests, given that Russia plays an important role in India's strategic policy, the Chinese analysts told the Global Times.
The Chinese experts believe the joint statement not only reflects that India is
adhering to an independent diplomatic policy, but also exposes the disagreement
between India and the other three Quad members over their positions toward
Russia. The disagreement became public and would open more rifts among the
partners, which signals the effectiveness of the Quad mechanism is weakened,
While Quad members the US, Japan and Australia have imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian individuals and organizations since the Ukraine crisis, India has refrained from commenting directly. Also, India has abstained in three UN votes deploring Moscow's actions, calling only for a halt to the fighting.
"The purpose of Kishida's visit was to further strengthen cooperation between India and Japan in various fields of economic security including industrial chain cooperation. But the sudden conflict between Russia and Ukraine was making Kishida act more like a lobbyist," Qian Feng, Director of the Research Department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University told the Global Times on Sunday.
"India has not followed the US, Japan and Australia in imposing sanctions on Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, which 'worried' the other three, shaking the foundation of a unified front under the Quad mechanism."
The Quad, targeting China, was founded under the banner of safeguarding common values, but India has been clear that its national interests stand above all else and values are just propaganda tools, Qian pointed out. This indicates that even if there is a common target for the alliance, India will not listen to them on every issue, Qian said.
The joint statement was silent on the current China-India border dispute but at a briefing after the meeting of the two leaders, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the prime ministers also discussed the China-India border standoff in Ladakh. "We also made it clear that until and unless we had a resolution of the issues and peace and tranquility in the border areas, we cannot consider the relationship to be business as usual. And normalcy in the relationship would depend on the progress on issues that we are discussing," he said.
In recent years, China-India relations have suffered major setbacks due to border issues. The Chinese experts said that on the one hand, India hopes to strengthen cooperation with the US, Japan and Australia to increase its leverage against China. On the other hand, if the Quad mechanism pushes India to the frontline against China and lets India bear the losses alone, these are scenarios India is unlikely to accept.
"The US wants the other three countries to be completely obedient but India won't agree," Qian said. "As the Russia-Ukraine crisis continues to consume the energy of the US and other major Western countries, the resources and capabilities of the Quad mechanism to contain China have declined objectively, which will also affect the established schedule and pace of the Quad."