'When Rules-Based Order Was Under Challenge In Asia...': EMA Jaishankar Reminds Europe Of Its Response During Ladakh Crisis
Speaking at the seventh edition of the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi today (26 April), External Affairs Minister (EMA) S Jaishankar reminded Europe of its response to the crisis in eastern Ladakh in 2020.
Jaishankar was responding to Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, his counterpart from Luxembourg, who had asked him to tell the gathering how Russia and specifically its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have been explaining the invasion of Ukraine to India.
What Jaishankar said: The minister said that only Russia could explain its justification for the invasion of Ukraine. But he did not stop there.
"When rules-based order was under challenge in Asia, the advice we got from Europe is - do more trade. At least we are not giving you that advice...," the minister was quoted by ANI as saying.
“There is really nobody who wants to see this conflict. There will be no winners out of this conflict,” he stressed, speaking about the Russia-Ukraine war. Acknowledging the concerns of his European colleagues, he stated that he understood that the Ukraine conflict will occupy Europeans to the exclusion of almost everything else. “But there is also a world out there,” he pointed out, mentioning Afghanistan.
With respect to Afghanistan, Jaishankar asked, “Please show me which part of the rules-based order justified what the world did there”? Imploring the questioner to look at things in “the right context”, Jaishankar clarified that “our position is that we all have to find some way of returning to diplomacy and dialogue.”
Why this matters: In all likelihood, Jaishankar was referring to Europe's stand on China's aggression against India in Eastern Ladakh. When India was locked in a tense military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, including at the time of the clashes in the Galwan Valley, the European Union was negotiating an investment deal with China. Almost all major European countries except France failed to condemn Chinese aggression.
Not the first time: This clarity over India’s stance and ability to pursue its interests has come to the fore at various instances in External Affairs Minister’s recent interactions.
During the 2+2 dialogue with the US, Jaishankar tackled a loaded question on India’s oil purchases from Russia amidst the Ukraine crisis. “I would suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe. We do buy some energy, which is necessary for our energy security. But I suspect looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon,” was his rejoinder.
Over US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comment that Washington was monitoring the “rise in human rights abuses by some government, police, and prison officials” in India, Jaishankar had said, “we also take our views on other people's human rights situation, including that of the United States. Emphasising that India will not be reticent about speaking out its views on other countries whenever there is a discussion, he said, “we are also equally entitled to have views about their views and about the interests, and the lobbies and the vote banks which drive that.”
But why has this come up now? India has been under pressure from the US and Europe to take a strong position against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and cut trade and defence ties with Moscow. India has called for the cessation of fighting in Ukraine and respect for territorial integrity, but Europe's sanctimonious tone towards New Delhi hasn't changed.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was in India earlier this week, followed the same script, warning India of the close ties and 'no limit' friendship between Russia and China.
Last month, US Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh said that if China breaches Line of Actual Control again, Russia will not come to India's help.
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