Ukraine conflict & Indo Pacific: British Foreign Secy, others to visit India

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New Delhi: Various pros and cons associated with security and strategic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region have come in for closer examination in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war and New Delhi’s neutral stand.

UK’s Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss is expected to visit India soon to discuss bilateral issues and the geopolitical uncertainty caused by the Ukraine conflict.

The senior US and other European officials would also arrive in India even as Russia has come under severe criticism and attracted sweeping sanctions that impacted the market and prices.

Sources say amid efforts to seal a trade pact with India, British Foreign Secretary Truss’s visit will also be aimed at pushing the bilateral strategic partnership, including in the Indo-Pacific region.

National Security Advisors from the Netherlands and Germany are also expected to visit India in the coming weeks.

Among others, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs Donald Lu is expected to discuss the Ukraine situation with Indian leaders and officers and prepare for the next 2+2 strategic dialogues being planned for April in Washington.

India has stuck to its principle of neutrality and a balanced approach. External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from time to time, have insisted that New Delhi firmly believes in dialogue and diplomacy.

While the US is India’s crucial strategic partner, especially in the context of Indo Pacific and New Delhi’s stance against China, Russia is India’s old friend and the major defence supplier whom India cannot wish away overnight or so easily.

The decision to stick to the India-Russia military deal has remained on track on the backdrop of the new US administration under Joe Biden deciding to continue with the Donald Trump-era policy of imposing Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Russia or any other country that would buy armaments from some listed countries.

Washington has said India would not be violating its sanctions by purchasing discounted Russian oil.

Asked about a report on the possibility that India could take up the Russian offer of discounted crude oil, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said, “I don’t believe this would be violating that (sanctions). But also think about where you want to stand when history books are written at this moment in time…”

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