Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 10
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had stated on July 23 that the proposal to hold a Russia-India-China (RIC) summit on the sidelines of the G-20 summit was discussed last month during the “virtual” meeting of the three foreign ministers, their first after the Galwan Valley clash of July 15.
India has so far not reacted to the proposal. Had tensions not cropped up at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a RIC summit during a G-20 heads of government (HoGs) meeting would not have been out-of-ordinary because the previous two G-20 meets had also seen RIC summits that were unremarkable footnotes from the diplomatic point of view.
Lavrov said the July RIC Foreign Ministers’ meet had also touched on expanding the format to include trilaterals among Defence Ministers.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has kept its cards close to the chest in the matter. It had chosen not to respond to Lavrov’s initial call to hold a RIC summit. It publicly acquiesced to a RIC Foriegn Ministers’ meet as the event served as an ice-breaker after the Galwan Valley clash.
While Russia’s intention is to keep alive its project of a trilateral of Eurasian powers, China has backed its proposals for such arrangement in order to minimise the damage to its economic interests in India after the LAC clash.
Speaking to the media last week, MEA official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had spoken of a “full calendar” of events with Russia, including several multilateral meetings.
These include the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meetings in which both Russia and China are also present.
India has already borrowed nearly $3 billion from China-led banks to combat the Covid pandemic.
The middle path
- Russia was the first country India turned to after the Galwan Valley clash for additional military platforms
- But Russia believes India and China have enough mechanisms to sort out their differences bilaterally