India on Wednesday tacitly dismissed Russia’s position that the “Indo-Pacific strategy” was actually an attempt to revive the “cold-war mentality”.
“I would argue that in a way, the Indo-Pacific is a return to history. It reflects the more contemporary world. It is actually the overcoming of the Cold War and not reinforcing it,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at the Raisina Dialogue being held virtually this year. “I very much hope that all of us who run contemporary foreign policy look at it that way.”
His comment came on a day Moscow’s envoy to New Delhi, Nikolay Kudashev, reiterated Russia’s opposition to the Indo-Pacific strategy. “We want to call the attention of our Indian partners and friends to the dangers emerging from the Western Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at a revival of the Cold War-era thinking and Cold War-era structures,” Kudashev told journalists in New Delhi. He was apparently referring to the rivalry between the US and the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) leading to the creation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by America and its allies in Western Europe.
New Delhi’s strategic convergence with Washington DC in Indo-Pacific to counter China’s hegemonic aspirations in the region over the past few years caused wrinkles in India’s relations with Russia.
When Jaishankar hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in New Delhi last week, Moscow tacitly nudged New Delhi to stay away from any move by the United States to turn the Quad into a NATO-like military alliance in order to contain China in the Indo-Pacific region.
Lavrov was on a tour to New Delhi – less than a month after India joined Japan, Australia and the United States to elevate the Quad to the level of the Heads of Government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 12 virtually joined his counterparts in Japan and Australia – Yoshihide Suga and Scott Morrison – and the US President Joe Biden in the historic first summit of the coalition, which the four nations had originally forged in 2007, but revived in 2011, ostensibly to build a bulwark of democratic nations to counter hegemonic aspirations of communist China.
Lavrov had, in December 2020, called the Quad a ‘divisive’ and ‘exclusivist’ tool, which was being used by the US to implement its “devious policy” of engaging New Delhi in games against China as well as to undermine Russia’s close partnership with India.
Hours after Moscow’s envoy to India’s reiterated Russia’s opposition to the Indo-Pacific strategy, Jaishankar said that no nation should have a ‘veto’ over New Delhi’s partnerships. He dismissed the “Asian NATO” as a term coined to play a “mind game”. “That kind of NATO mentality has never been in India, if it has been in Asia, that would be other countries, not mine,” External Affairs Minister said at the Raisina Dialogue hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs.