The seasoned diplomat is leading India’s foreign policy on the world stage at a time when a major shift in the geopolitical system is underway, a change that many believed gave India the opportunity to take sides. will force. Yet it remains strictly neutral despite criticism from Western critics on India’s independent stance.
He followed up this scathing criticism with another round at the GLOBESEC Forum 2022 held in Bratislava, Slovakia on Friday.
Asked whether the Ukraine-Russia conflict could prompt the Chinese to pursue their expansionist claims on Indian territory, Jaishankar said, “I am partially reacting to the previous comments… Europe has to get out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems. And that’s a reflection.”
Jaishankar, who has served as Indian envoy to various countries including China and the US during his 38-year-long service, said: “Today there is a relationship that is being built. Relations between China and India and what is happening in Ukraine. China and India happened long before anything happened in Ukraine. The Chinese need no precedent elsewhere on how to engage us or how not to engage us or be difficult with us or difficult with us. ,
India was first attacked by China on October 20, 1962. The disputed Himalayan border was at the center of conflict and remains a subject of tension decades later, leading to frequent skirmishes and standoffs, as in present-day eastern Ladakh. Jaishankar said the conflict here predates the crisis in Europe.
On Friday’s forum, when the moderator asked him to choose a side – the US or China – if he was pressured to do so, Jaishankar replied, “I do not accept that India should either be on the US axis. Or join the China axis. We have a fifth of the world’s population, the world’s fifth or sixth largest economy… We deserve to weigh in.”
The minister’s shrewd responses reflect India’s growing bargaining power in a post-Covid world where distrust of China is growing. As India’s economic engine powers its forward momentum, it becomes increasingly clear that the country is in a position where it will not be guided, and the Ministry of External Affairs is making sure the world knows.
India is not only at an economic advantage in setting its own terms, but also a moral one, especially relating to the EU agreement on Russian oil and gas. The European Union banned 90 percent of Russian oil imports but allowed pipeline supplies to countries that cannot easily replace Russian oil with maritime trade deals.
Importantly, the EU has not cut natural gas ties with Russia, which supplies 40% of EU imports, and is unlikely to be able to do so.
He defended India’s purchase of Russia’s oil, saying it had “increased nine times” from a very low base. In 2021, India received 2 percent of its oil imports from Russia, according to commodity research group Kepler. US sanctions against them have resulted in the market shutting down Iranian and Venezuelan supplies, with Jaishankar at one point insisting why India “can’t go to the market and get the best deal for the people” in that situation. Is.”
At the same time, Jaishankar rejected the Western assessment that India was “ignoring” the European crisis, until he argued, “You call Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky to ignore something.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken questioned India’s human rights record for the second time in 2 months and the State Department statement denounced US “vote bank politics” as the motivation behind the criticism. Earlier in April, Jaishankar said that India too “has ideas about the human rights of other people, especially as it pertains to our community.”
Clearly, Jaishankar and his external affairs ministry colleagues are playing on the front foot in India’s foreign policy, keeping national interest at the fore.