Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, recently tweeted that the annual summit between India and Russia has been cancelled due to Moscow's unease with Quad. This is the first time the Annual Summit has been postponed since 2000.
Gandhi had quoted a report published by The Print saying that the summit meeting was postponed after Russia "expressed severe reservations on New Delhi joining the Indo-Pacific initiative and Quad, thereby tilting more towards the US."
Anurag Srivastava, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, issued a statement: "The India-Russia Annual Summit did not take place in 2020 because of the Covid Pandemic. This was a mutually agreed decision between the two Governments. Any imputation otherwise is false and misleading. Spreading false stories on important relationships is particularly irresponsible."
Reacting to The Print's report and Rahul Gandhi's tweet, the Russian Ambassador to India, Nikolay Kudashev, issued a press release saying:
"Special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India is progressing well despite the Covid-19. Staying in close touch with our Indian friends to work out new dates for the summit, postponed due to epidemiological reasons." The summit will be held soon once the dates are decided, the press release added.
However, speaking to Hindustan Times on Monday, the Russian envoy expressed concerns about the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad that could jeopardize regional cooperation.
The Quad, comprising the US, India, Japan and Australia, is an alliance to contain China.
Roman Babushkin, the charge' d'affaires at the Russian embassy, was more explicit. He told Hindustan Times, "We are facing some attempts by some countries to create containment and alienation in the Indo-Pacific region which could threaten and jeopardize basic principles for regional cooperation, for example ASEAN centrality and ASEAN unity"Quad would be detrimental to the inclusive dialogue in the region."
The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a major stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific region.
India embraces the US at cost of Russia ties: Global Times"India embraces the US at cost of Russia ties" is the title of the article published Thursday by the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times (GT). According to GT, "for the first time since 2000, the annual Russia-India summit was called off. It is a sign of clear cracks between Moscow and New Delhi."
Although both Russia and India said this year's meeting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it cannot cover the two countries' disputes about major issues. Both sides have concerns and different views about the other's diplomatic policies.
When delivering an address to a Moscow-based think tank on December 8, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the US-led West of attempting to "undermine" Russia's close partnership and privileged relations with India, the Global Times pointed out.
India's border disputes with China can be a challenge for the country. Some Indian elites now regard Beijing as their greatest threat. India is dissatisfied to see Russia's close ties with China. Furthermore, India is also worried about Russia's developing ties with Pakistan, which is seen as a foe by India. Bloomberg reported that Moscow will coordinate with Islamabad to start building a 1,100-kilometer pipeline in July 2021.
Cracks are emerging in Russia-India ties. Where this bilateral relationship heads will depend on the development of China-Russia, US-Russia, US-India and China-US relations. If ties between the US and India keep heating up; if US and Russia tensions continue to mount; if the US and China antagonism goes on unabated, cracks between India and Russia will always exist, the Global Times concluded.
India-Russia Defense Ties
Interestingly, Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, wrote last May in Diplomat, that India-Russia relationship was showing signs of strain even before to the pandemic, mainly because both countries are drifting toward different sides in the emerging competition between the United States and China.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).