New Delhi: The West, led by the United States, is trying to engage India in “anti-China games” through its Indo-Pacific strategies and is also trying to undermine Russia’s close and privileged ties with India, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has said, in unprecedented remarks that have highlighted both Moscow’s proximity with Beijing and a growing unease over the India-US strategic partnership.
Addressing the Russian International Affairs Council, Mr Lavrov said: “It (the West) is trying to restore the unipolar model of world order. ‘Poles’ like Russia and China are unlikely to be subordinate to it. However, 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.”
The Russian foreign minister added: “Rejecting the objective trends towards the formation of a multipolar world, the US-led West has launched a ‘game’. It has postponed Russia and China for later and is trying to draw all others into a unipolar world by any means possible. For our part, we will promote a unifying agenda… Intellectually, the West justifies its policies by the notorious concept of a ‘rules-based order’. These rules are invented on the go, at various get-togethers.”
Observers point out that the remarks highlight Russia’s unease with India’s growing proximity and strong strategic ties with the United States, with whom Russia has had a sharply deteriorating relationship. It also highlights India’s challenge in continuing to maintain excellent ties with both Russia and the US. India is also a member of the four-nation Quad, that also comprises Japan and Australia, apart from the US, a factor that Russia does not seem too comfortable with. Russia’s adverse references to the phrase “rules-based order” that India uses regularly in its official statements are also being viewed by observers as a concern for New Delhi, since use of the phrase by New Delhi is usually seen as a veiled reference to China.
The remarks also highlight the strong ties between Russia and China at a time when India continues to be locked in a military face-off with China in the Ladakh sector, though the two Asian giants continue to be in talks to resolve the issue.