New Delhi: In response to a report published by ThePrint titled ‘India-Russia annual summit postponed for 1st time in two decades amid Moscow’s unease with Quad’, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Embassy of the Russian Federation have issued statements, asserting that postponing the annual summit was a “mutually agreed decision” and that the “special and privileged partnership” between the two countries is progressing well.
“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,” read the statement issued by Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs.
The MEA statement was also posted on Twitter.
The statement issued by Nikolay Kudashev, Ambassador of Russia to India, said the report was found “to be far from reality”.
“Noted the article “India-Russia annual summit postponed for 1st time in two decades amid Moscow’s unease with Quad” in the Print.
“Find it to be far from reality. Special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India is progressing well despite the COVID-19,” said the statement posted on Twitter.
“Staying in a close touch with our Indian friends to work out new dates for the summit postponed due to epidemiological reasons. We are confident that it will be held in the near future, while the Russian-Indian relations will continue its further development,” it added.
ThePrint’s Senior Associate Editor, Diplomacy and Strategic Affairs, Nayanima Basu, who broke the story, responds:
The fact is that no summit has taken place. In 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held several virtual summits with India’s key partners, including Australia, the European Union, Sri Lanka, Italy, Bangladesh and Vietnam, among others. While denial by the MEA and the Russian Ambassador is all very well, the fact is that two days before this story was published, Ambassador Kudashev and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Russian Embassy Roman Babushkin were sharply critical of the Indo-Pacific framework and the Quad.
“Quad is detrimental to the security and stability of the region,” Babushkin said at a joint presser on December 21. “While we understand India’s concept of Indo-Pacific, let’s not forget that there is no unified vision for Indo-Pacific currently because we know that many countries promote this vision and some are non-inclusive, while India’s concept of Indo-Pacific is inclusive.”
Earlier, on 8 December, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, had said in Moscow: “India is currently an object of the Western countries’ persistent, aggressive and devious policy as they are trying to engage it in anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies, the so-called Quad, while at the same time the West is attempting to undermine our close partnership and privileged relations with India. This is the goal of the US’ very tough pressure on New Delhi in the MTC area.”
New Delhi had reacted strongly to the Russian foreign minister’s statement, asserting that “India has always pursued an independent foreign policy based on its national interest. India’s relationship with each country is independent of its relations with third countries. We hope that this is well understood and appreciated by all our partners”.
It’s a fact that over the last year or so, Russia and China have come much closer and their bilateral relationship has acquired a much stronger strategic dimension. We stand by our story.