Sergei Lavrov was handed a rupee of friendship – Gazeta Kommersant № 57 (7258) from 02.04.2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov paid a visit to India, which opened an account of personal contacts between the leaders of the two countries after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Delhi in December. The strategic partnership has been tested in the face of confrontation between Russia and the West. By refusing to take part in the sanctions war and quadrupled its Russian oil purchases in March this year, India is looking for ways to break cooperation with Moscow. One of the topics of Sergei Lavrov’s talks in Delhi was the prospects of creating a new payment system, an alternative to SWIFT, which will allow settlements in rupees and rubles.

Sergei Lavrov continued his regional tour, during which he previously visited China, with a two-day visit to Delhi. Talks with Indian Foreign Minister Subramaniyam Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were key events on Friday.

Sergei Lavrov’s previous trip to Delhi took place on December 6 last year. Then, as part of the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu took part in the first-ever Russian-Indian two-plus-two meeting. Since then, the situation in the world has changed dramatically in connection with Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. The war of sanctions against Russia has become a test of strength for relations between Moscow and Delhi, which have the status of a privileged strategic partnership.

“I am just happy to meet our friends again. Friendship is the key word to describe the history of our relationship. They have been very stable during many difficult periods in the past, and I have no doubt that mutual respect and balance of interests will prevail in our relations in the future, “said Sergei Lavrov during a meeting with Subramaniyam Jaishankar. “Our Western colleagues would now like to reduce any important international issues to the crisis in Ukraine. We do not hide anything, and we appreciate that India perceives this situation from different angles, not one-sided, “Sergei Lavrov added, adding that he would report on the talks in Delhi to President Putin, who” wished Prime Minister Modi his best. “

India, which did not join the war of sanctions, announced its intention to develop cooperation with Russia and in March this year, at Moscow’s special offer, purchased 13 million barrels of Russian oil at reduced prices (16 million barrels were purchased in the previous year). However, India was one of the first in Asia to feel the effects of economic sanctions against Russia.

The disconnection of a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT system has paralyzed the settlement system in bilateral trade, and in the first weeks after the sanctions were imposed, Indian exporters were unable to receive about $ 400 million for goods already shipped to Russia. In this regard, Prime Minister Modi initiated the establishment of an interagency working group to study the impact of Western sanctions against Russia on the Indian economy.

Meanwhile, the United States and its allies are stepping up pressure on India to stop looking for ways to circumvent sanctions and abandon cooperation with Moscow. On the eve of Sergei Lavrov’s visit to the Indian capital, British Foreign Secretary Liz Trass and White House National Economic Council Deputy Director Dalip Singh, an Indian Indian of President Joe Biden’s team, arrived at the same time. Mr. Singh is said to be almost the chief architect of Washington’s sanctions against Moscow. In addition, Jaishankar had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Thursday. Thus, the diplomatic numerical advantage was on the side of Sergei Lavrov’s opponents, who made every effort to separate Delhi from Moscow.

During a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Liz Trass, she called on Narendra Modi’s government to “resist Russia’s aggression and reduce global strategic dependence on the country.” “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine underscores the need for closer cooperation between free democracies in areas such as defense, trade and cybersecurity. Deeper links between the UK and India will increase security in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world, as well as create jobs and opportunities in both countries, ”said Liz Trass.

In turn, Dalip Singh insisted that India should abandon plans to increase purchases of Russian energy and other goods. An unnamed White House spokesman set out Washington’s position on the eve of Sergei Lavrov’s talks in Delhi. “India’s significant increase in oil purchases from Russia could put Delhi at great risk as Washington prepares to tighten sanctions against Russia,” the Times quoted India as saying on Thursday. “The United States does not object to India buying Russian oil, but on the condition that it will do so at reduced prices and without a significant increase in volume compared to previous years.

Everything India does must comply with sanctions, otherwise it could face serious consequences, “said a White House spokesman. against India.

Meanwhile, India is looking for ways to break cooperation with Moscow. As the Economic Times reported on Thursday, Moscow and Delhi are considering a new payment system, an alternative to SWIFT, which will allow settlements in rupees and rubles. According to the publication, a group of specialists from the Central Bank of Russia will visit India next week to hold urgent consultations on creating a legal framework and a mechanism for mutual settlements in the face of sanctions against Russia. The two countries’ negotiating teams are also expected to develop a special mechanism to facilitate India’s purchases of Russian oil.

“We will be ready to supply India with any goods it wants to buy … We will find a way to overcome the artificial obstacles created by illegal unilateral Western sanctions,” Sergei Lavrov told a news conference in Delhi. He added: “We already have experience on how to live in these conditions (sanctions.” Kommersant), and live so that we were good and our partners were good.

In the context of the sanctions war against Russia, the central place in Sergei Lavrov’s talks in Delhi was given to finding ways and means to support trade and investment in the face of Western sanctions against major Russian banks and legal entities, the CEO summed up in an interview with Kommersant. India Writes Network portal Manish Chand.— This may be the use of the rupee-ruble mechanism, but pegged to other currencies, such as the Chinese yuan. The ruble is pegged to the currency of a third country in order to avoid the consequences of the volatility of the Russian ruble. This payment mechanism will help Indian exporters who are worried about the delayed payments after some Russian banks were blocked from accessing SWIFT. According to Kommersant’s interlocutor, “both sides also plan to set up a special payment mechanism for India’s military procurement and the forthcoming payment for a defense deal on S-400 systems, as these are large sums in the amount of millions of dollars.”

According to the Indian side, as Manish Chand noted, “the Western sanctions regime will last much longer than the special operation in Ukraine lasts.”

“Given this, it is necessary to provide all mechanisms to neutralize the effects of sanctions so that they do not become an obstacle to the strategic partnership between Moscow and Delhi in the long run,” the expert added.

Sergey Strokan

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