Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov arrives in India; to meet PM Modi, Jaishankar
New Delhi, Mar 31: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in India on Thursday on a two-day official visit, his first trip to the country since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last month. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Lavrov will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday.
However, a media advisory issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Lavrov's engagements in New Delhi has no mention of his meeting with Modi. MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi posted a video of Lavrov's arrival with the caption: "Welcoming the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov as he arrives in New Delhi for an official visit."
People familiar with the preparations for Lavrov's visit said India's purchase of discounted Russian crude oil and putting in place a rupee-ruble payment system for bilateral trade are expected to be the key focus of his talks with Jaishankar. India is also likely to press for a timely delivery of various military hardware as well as components of the S-400 missile systems by Russia.
The Russian foreign minister arrived in India after concluding a two-day visit to China. Lavrov's visit to India coincides with that of US Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh and British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited India. EU Special Envoy for the Indo-Pacific Gabriele Visentin visited New Delhi this week.
Unlike many other leading powers, India has not yet criticised Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and it abstained from the votes at the UN platforms in condemning the Russian aggression. However, last Thursday, India abstained on a resolution pushed by Russia on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, which was seen as reflective of its neutral position on the conflict.
India has been pressing for the resolution of the crisis through diplomacy and dialogue. Modi has held conversations over the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, March 2 and March 7. The prime minister has spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy twice.
Last week, Jaishankar said in Parliament that India's position on the Ukraine conflict has been "steadfast and consistent", and that it has been seeking immediate cessation of violence. PTI