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India must stand against ‘autocracies’ like Russia and China: senior U.S. official

Source : The Hindu

India must stand against ‘autocracies’ like Russia and China: senior U.S. official
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, during their meeting in New Delhi on March 22, 2022. (Photo; Twitter/@DrSJaishankar via PTI)

Hours after U.S. President Joseph Biden called India “somewhat shaky” in its support for sanctions against Russia, in comparison to other Quad partners Japan and Australia, a senior U.S. official visiting New Delhi said India must stand against “autocracies like Russia and China”.

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who met Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on Monday, ended her two-day visit to India with a meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.  “Good discussion on expanding our bilateral cooperation, on South Asia, Indo-Pacific and the Ukraine situation,” Mr. Jaishankar tweeted about his meeting with Ms. Nuland on Tuesday morning, after which the U.S. delegation left for Sri Lanka. 

The Ministry of External Affairs did not comment on Mr. Biden’s remarks, which indicates that despite a number of visits by leaders from countries that are part of the sanctions regime to India in the past week, New Delhi’s position has not shifted on its refusal to join the sanctions, even as the government explores buying more Russian oil at discounted prices. 

‘Evolution’ in thinking

When asked, Ms Nuland told television channel NDTV that she had spoken to Indian officials about the need for democracies to “stand together and evolve their position vis-a-vis Russia because of the choices Mr. Putin had made,” adding that she believed there was an “evolution” in thinking in India. 

“We know about the historic relationship and defence relationship between India and Russia at a time when the U.S. was not prepared to have that kind of relationship. But times have changed. They’ve changed in terms of the U.S. and European willingness to be strong defence and security partners with India. We are doing more together in the Indo-Pacific. But times have also changed in terms of the level of brutality and violation of international humanitarian law that we are seeing,” Ms. Nuland said, indicating that the U.S. could help India in sourcing its military hardware and spares supplies from former Soviet countries who are now the U.S. allies. 

“We have been supporting the sourcing of security needs for Ukraine along with our allies, including Soviet-era equipment, and those are the kind of things we can do with India as it continues to evolve its position,” she said in the interview. 

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