Britain woos India amid Russia’s Ukraine invasion, China’s growing muscles

By Sarwar Kashani

New Delhi, Apr 22 (EFE).- Prime Minister Boris Johnson Friday said the partnership between India and Britain “is a beacon in these stormy seas” as the global democracy and trade faced “growing threats” from autocracies, obliquely referring to Russia and China.

“The world faces growing threats from autocratic states which seek to undermine democracy, choke off free and fair trade, and trample on sovereignty,” Johnson said ahead of his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

“The UK’s partnership with India is a beacon in these stormy seas. Our collaboration on the issues that matter to both our countries, from climate change to energy security and defense, is of vital importance as we look to the future,” the British prime minister said.

He did not name any country that posed what he perceived as “growing threats.”

But he was apparently referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China flexing its military muscles on the artificial islands in the contested waters of the South China Sea, threatening global commerce.

An estimated 60 percent of maritime commerce and over 22 percent of total global trade passes through the water body that China claims entirely.

Johnson arrived in India on Thursday for a two-day visit to strengthen commercial and security ties with the former British colony that relies heavily on Russian oil and military hardware and has a raging border dispute with its neighbor China.

The visit assumes significance since the United States and its western allies have been unsuccessfully trying to convince India to speak against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

India has refused to side with the US and its allies and abstained in a United Nations vote that condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has not joined the global chorus of imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Modi has, however, expressed concern over the killing of civilians in Ukraine and called for an independent probe.

Johnson and Modi were set to meet for talks in New Delhi later Friday before the British prime minister heads back to his country.

“I look forward to discussing these issues with Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi and working together to deliver a more secure and prosperous future for both our peoples,” said Johnson.

A British prime minister’s office statement said that Johnson will discuss next-generation defense and security collaboration across the five domains – land, sea, air, space, and cyber – in meetings with Modi “as our nations face complex new threats.”

The statement said Britain would “support new Indian-designed and built fighter jets, offering the best of British know-how on building battle-winning aircraft.”

“The UK will also seek to support India’s requirements for new technology to identify and respond to threats in the Indian Ocean.”

Johnson will also discuss new cooperation on clean and renewable energy in his meetings with Indian officials in New Delhi to support India’s energy transition away from imported oil.

The two countries are launching a virtual Hydrogen Science and Innovation hub to accelerate affordable green hydrogen, as well as new funding for the Green Grids Initiative announced at COP26, and collaboration on joint work on the electrification of public transport across India.

“Our governments are committing up to £75 million (approximately $9.76 million) to roll out adaptable clean tech innovations from India to the wider Indo-Pacific and Africa, and working together on international development and girls education,” the statement said.

Johnson will also use the visit to drive progress in negotiations on the landmark UK-India free trade agreement, expected to help double the trade and investment between the two countries by 2030.

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