Pakistan may be getting hysterical in trying to whip up international frenzy on recent changes in Jammu and Kashmir, but Russia has thrown its full weight behind India, saying the two countries have “nearly 100 per cent identical views” on J&K being an internal affair of India.
Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vladivostok September 4-5 to participate in the Eastern Economic Forum, Russia’s Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev underlined that the recent changes in the position of Jammu and Kashmir are strictly a matter for India to decide within its constitutional framework. “We want all issues to be resolved between India and Pakistan to be resolved through dialogue,” the envoy told journalists in New Delhi.
“India’s decision (on Jammu and Kashmir) is a sovereign decision which is as per its Constitution. Our position on the issue is totally identical to India’s position,” he said.
In Moscow, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar held wide-ranging talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and discussed the agenda for PM Modi’s visit to Russia. He reaffirmed the centrality of India-Russia relations in the mutating international landscape. “40 years to the day I first came to Moscow. The world has changed but India-Russia relations remain steady,” Mr Jaishankar tweeted.
Russia has consistently supported India’s position ever since the Indian government took bold and decisive steps to abrogate Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir and to bifurcate J&K into two Union Territories. Pakistan has launched a massive campaign to protest what it calls annexation of J&K by India, but the international community has largely supported India’s position that this issue should be resolved through bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan.
Russia came out robustly in support of India in informal consultations on Jammu and Kashmir in the UN Security Council on August 16, initiated by China, at the prodding of its client state Pakistan.
A New Chapter: Raising the Bar
The Russian envoy laid out an ambitious and multi-layered agenda for the forthcoming annual summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Modi in Vladivostok, the Pacific capital of Russia. “The meeting in Vladivostok will open a new chapter in the Russia-India special and privileged strategic partnership,” said Mr Kudashev.
The envoy identified enhanced cooperation in defence, civil nuclear energy, hydrocarbons, infrastructure, trade and investment as major focus areas for the Modi-Putin talks in Vladivostok.
The envoy said both sides were interested in implementing “huge infrastructure projects such as Vladivostok-Chennai sea route transport corridor, Northern Sea Route and other initiatives which would more efficiently involve the transit potential of Russia for the benefit” of bilateral ties. Mr Modi’s participation in the annual Eastern Economic Forum is aimed at promoting and expanding economic ties between India and the resource-rich Far Eastern region.
Roman Babushkin, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Russian embassy in New Delhi, highlighted time-tested ties between India and Russia, which have adapted to new realities. “Our bilateral relationship is immune to negative influence from outside,” he said.
Mr Babushkin added that the two countries are looking at identifying a site for the construction of six nuclear power plants in India. He also assured that despite mounting US pressure, Russia will be delivering the S-400 air defence missile system to India by 2023.
- 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.