For a Peaceful World

Russia makes its neutral stand clear on India-China border tensions at the RIC trilateral meet

Palak Gupta

Making its premise clear on the ongoing India-China border issue in Eastern Ladakh (Western Theatre) of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Russia has ruled out the need of any ‘outside help’, expressing confidence that the two Asian giants are committed to ‘peaceful resolution of (their bilateral) disputes’.

Defence secretary Ajay Kumar meeting the Russian deputy defence minister Alexander Vasilyevich Fomin in Moscow

“I do not think that India and China need any help from the outside. I do not think they need to be helped, especially when it comes to country issues. They can solve them on their own, it means the recent events,” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press briefing after concluding the Russia, India and China (RIC) trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting held virtually on 23 June 2020.

The Kremlin is also hopeful that the situation (between India and China) will be peaceful and that the two countries will remain committed to peaceful resolution of disputes. “They started meetings at the level of defence officers, foreign ministers and neither of the two sides made any statements which would indicate that any of them would pursue non-diplomatic solutions,” Lavrov added.


RIC amid India-China border tension

The RIC trilateral meet was earlier scheduled to take place in March but was called off due to Covid-19 outbreak. Russia chaired the meeting virtually on the sidelines of the 75th Victory Day Parade in Moscow. Apart from Lavrov, the meeting was attended by India’s minister of external affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.


Talks at the trilateral meet

The initial remarks of the three foreign ministers went live, but it switched to ‘closed-door’ discussions afterwards. The RIC was the first face-to-face meeting between Jaishankar and Wang Yi after the violent face-off in the Galwan Valley. Though the two ministers had had a telephonic conversation on 17 June 2020.

“This special meeting reiterates our belief in time-tested principles of international relations, but the challenge today is not of concepts and norms but equally of their practice,” Jaishankar said in his opening remarks at the meeting.

In what appeared as a veiled message to Beijing, the Indian foreign minister added, “The challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their practice. The leading voices of the world must be exemplars in every way. Respecting international law, recognising the legitimate interests of partners, supporting multilateralism and promoting common good are the only ways of building a durable world order.”

Keeping in line with the spirits of the trilateral summit, the Russian foreign minister stressed that Russia, India and China consistently speak in favour of interstate relations based on a firm and generally recognised international legal basis in order to ensure global stability and general prosperity. “Our leaders reaffirmed this stance at the RIC summits in Buenos Aires in November 2018 and Osaka in June 2019. We are united by our rejection of unilateral methods in international relations, especially when these methods are applied by force,” he said.

In addition to this, Lavrov also dwelled on the ‘important’ role of the three countries in stabilising the global affairs. “I am confident that the use of our three countries’ potential will play an important stabilising role in global affairs, support the entire global community in effectively resolving many topical problems of today and establish the principles of true multilateralism,” he added.

Endorsing somewhat similar views, Chinese state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi underscored that China, Russia, and India are big countries insisting on strategic autonomy. “We should grasp the overall cooperation situation of the three countries as partners and opportunities. Starting from the common interests of promoting the development of the three countries and safeguarding the world’s peaceful development, we should correctly treat and properly handle the sensitive factors in bilateral relations and maintain the overall situation of mutual relations,” Wang Yi said.


Russia plays a critical role

Russia seems to have emerged as a key diplomatic player and is believed to be attempting to defuse the escalating border tensions between India and China through backdoor communication channels.

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