India cannot be restricted by exclusive relationships with a single country and it is advancing on multiple major relationships at the same time, foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said about ties with US and Russia.
Delivering a lecture at an event in Kolkata, Mr Jaishankar said India’s strong ties with Russia or any other country should not become an obstacle in equally strong relations with the US.
“It is not in our (India’s) interest to be tied down to exclusive relationships,” Mr Jaishankar said on the question of “divided loyalties” and India-US relations.
“Because we have a tradition of strong ties with Russia, that should not become a burden or an obstacle to an equally strong relationship with the United States,” he said.
The White House rolled out a red carpet for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi for a three-day visit during which he met president Joe Biden. The two leaders said the “United States and India are among the closest partners in the world” as the two leaders hashed out deals and made announcements of new partnerships.
This was despite suppressed frustration over New Delhi’s reluctance to directly criticise Russia for its war in Ukraine while sticking to a policy that best suits India’s interest. Experts have said India is maintaining a neutral position in the war to continue its balancing act between the West and Russia.
Mr Jaishankar said that independence of thoughts and independence of actions should not be confused with neutrality.
India will look at any situation from the point of view of what is in its interests, he said.
India which calls Russia the “time-tested partner” has ramped up the purchase of Russian crude oil since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. India has become one of the biggest importers of Russian oil as the European Union imposed sanctions on energy to squeeze its energy gains and cut funding to war in Ukraine.
The Indian leadership has defended the imports saying it will look after its interests first while blaming the European Union for importing more than India.
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