In a sign of new realism in India-US relations, the two strategic partners have decided to work together on mitigating volatility stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war and unveiled important steps to enhance their collaboration across domains, including defence, space, cyber and critical technologies.
In an unprecedented gesture which underscored special nature of the India-US partnership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden held a virtual discussion covering a wide gamut of the growing partnership, and set the tone for the 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries on April 11.
The virtual interaction lasted for around an hour during which the two leaders discussed the Russia-Ukraine war and its ramifications for the world. In a bid to assuage apprehensions in the US, PM Modi amplified on the position taken by India vis-à-vis the Ukraine crisis and steps taken by New Delhi to provide humanitarian assistance to people of Ukraine.
“Throughout this development, I spoke to the Presidents of both Ukraine and Russia over the phone several times. I not only appealed for peace, but also suggested President Putin to have direct talks with the President of Ukraine,” said PM Modi.
“The news of the recent killings of innocent civilians in Bucha city was very worrying. We condemned it immediately and have also demanded a fair probe. We hope that the ongoing dialogue between Russia and Ukraine will pave the way for peace,” said PM Modi.
PM Modi stressed that India has sent medicines and other relief materials to Ukraine and its neighbouring countries.
The 2+2 talks that followed between India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with their US counterparts, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin also dwelt at length on finding common ground on the unfolding Ukraine crisis.
“The Ministers reviewed mutual efforts to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and assessed its broader implications. They urged an immediate cessation of hostilities,” said the joint statement at the end of the 2+2 dialogue; “The Ministers unequivocally condemned civilian deaths. They underscored that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, respect for international law, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.”
In a joint interaction with the media, Dr Jaishankar and Mr Blinken stressed that the talks focused on mitigating volatility in food, energy and commodity prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Intensification of defence collaboration was one of the major takeaways from the first 2+2 dialogue held under the Biden administration. In an important step to expand defence collaboration, the two sides signed a pact on Space Situational Awareness and pledged to expand bilateral space cooperation. The two sides will hold an inaugural Defense Space Dialogue and an inaugural AI Dialogue this year to harness opportunities for joint innovation and cooperation in new domains. Gen. Austin lauded India as a net provider of security in the region and a leading defence industry partner in the Indo-Pacific.
Geopolitically, the 2+2 talks saw a striking convergence on the Indo-Pacific, Quad and the situation in Afghanistan. Amid apprehensions among some sections that the Russia-Ukraine war has diluted the US’ focus on the Indo-Pacific, the US joined hands with India to deepen collaboration in the region through joint exercises and building of infrastructure. The two partners also reaffirmed the importance of enhancing intra-Quad collaboration as a force for global public good.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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