Russian FM Sergey Lavrov heads to India; First high level visit since Russia declared war on Ukraine | The Financial Express

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India, Russia, China, Brazil, South Africa are also members of BRICS, and later this year, the BRICS summit is expected to take place in Beijing as China holds the chairmanship of the grouping.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey LavrovRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Amid global geopolitical turmoil following Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is arriving on a two day visit to India on March 31.

MEA announces the visit

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, “The Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov will pay an official visit to New Delhi on March 31-1 April 2022.”

Expected Agenda

During the day-long visit, the Russian minister will meet his counterpart and discuss several issues including the ongoing military operations in Ukraine, the sale of Russian crude, rupee-ruble denominated payment method that could be used for the sale of crude, and other goods from that country.  Following the US led sanctions; some banks from Russia have been removed from the SWIFT messaging system.

As reported earlier in Financial Express Online, the visit by the Russian minister is the first high-level visit since it launched military action against Ukraine last month and it follows the recently concluded unannounced visit of the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.

With Russia declaring war over Ukraine, the global geopolitical scenario has changed as the West and Russia have locked horns and New Delhi has been non-aligned in its approach towards the situation.

Russian Crude

Financial Express has reported earlier that India is not averse to buying discounted Russian oil and recently the government informed the Parliament that it is examining offers from that country to buy cheap crude and an inter-ministerial committee is working on an alternate payment plan. Senior officials from Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are meeting their Russian counterparts to discuss the rupee-ruble payment.

Visits from other countries

Since the start of war, India has been under pressure from the West and its allies to take a stronger stand against Russia. Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia (both members of the QUAD) have had bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And the focus of the talks has been the ongoing war, as well as the growing presence of China in the region.

Both India and China have not condemned war against Ukraine by Russia and have urged the leaders of Ukraine and Russia to resolve the crisis through dialogue and diplomacy.

India, Russia, China, Brazil, South Africa are also members of BRICS, and later this year, the BRICS summit is expected to take place in Beijing as China holds the chairmanship of the grouping.

The Biden administration has announced the visit of its chief strategist on sanctions against Russia for the war in Ukraine, Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA). He is due in New Delhi on Thursday and comes close on the heels of the recently concluded US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland’s visit for meetings about the Ukraine crisis.

He is due to be in New Delhi, on the day the Russian Foreign minister arrives. The Russian minister is coming from Beijing where he is attending a conference on Afghanistan.

The deputy NSA’s visit from the US also coincides with that of British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is arriving in New Delhi tomorrow and will hold talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar on bilateral, regional and international  issues of mutual interest late evening before departing for London.

EU is “unhappy’’

According to reports, the EU has said it was “not pleased” by India’s votes of abstention at the UN on Ukraine resolutions. EU’s special envoy on the Indo-Pacific Gabriele Visentin also called for support for its joint stand against Russia.

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