India says defense ties with Russia not against any other country

New Delhi, Dec 6 (EFE).- India’s ties with Russia were not directed against any nation, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said Monday, as New Delhi tries to balance its foreign policy amid growing hostility between Moscow and Washington.

India and Russia will hold the annual high-level security talks in New Delhi as President Vladimir Putin arrived in New Delhi to sign pacts on security, defense, and trade.

“We appreciate Russia’s strong support for India,” the Indian defense minister said after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu.

“Our close cooperation is not targeted against another country. We hope that our cooperation will bring peace and prosperity to the entire region, and provide stability to the region.”

President Putin is also in New Delhi for the annual bilateral summit to deepen strategic ties with several agreements on the table.

The visit is significant because ties between the United States and Russia have been on the downward slide for many years.

Washington has threatened sanctions on Moscow for its possible military offensive against Ukraine.

On the other hand, Russia-China ties have become stronger even as the relationship between Beijing and New Delhi has worsened after a series of border clashes over disputed territories.

In this complex myriad of regional diplomacy, the US has been courting India for an alliance to counter the growing Chinese influence in Asia and beyond.

But the supply of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to India has sparked criticism and warnings of possible sanctions by the US.

Shoigu landed in New Delhi Sunday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before the arrival of Putin.

Singh said the two sides would hold the first India-Russia 2+2 ministerial dialog between the foreign and defense ministers on the political and security issues.

The initiative taken by two countries signaled the “relevance and necessity for cooperation between India and Russia,” the Indian minister said.

India had, so far, maintained such high-level contacts with the US, Japan, and Australia — all members of the so-called Quad alliance.

Putin will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the 21st annual bilateral summit between the two countries.

The two countries will sign a dozen bilateral agreements in various fields, especially in defense and trade.

India last week approved a plan to produce more than 500,000 Russian-designed rifles carrying an investment of $700-million for the joint project. EFE


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