India wants to even out the Chinese edge that the northern neighbour gained by preventing a specific mention of Pakistan-based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the Russia-India-China (RIC) joint communique last week with a categorical condemnation of UNSC-condemned groups during the first-ever 2+2 dialogue with Russia the day after tomorrow.
Ahead of President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s arrival, New Delhi is working with Moscow to ensure an unequivocal assertion of the need to eliminate India-targeting terrorist groups for enduring peace in Afghanistan, official sources said. They said that Moscow remained sensitive to India’s concerns of Islamic terrorism.
The president of Russia will have his annual summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 6 December in the evening after the 2+2. In the other meeting of the package, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will hold wide-ranging talks with their counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoigu respectively.
While Putin is not expected to spend more than 6 h in India, the visit is still seen as significant, as this will be only the second time that Putin will leave Russia since the Covid-19 outbreak. According to the Russian president’s aide Yuri Ushakov, the two countries are likely to sign 10 bilateral agreements during the visit.
The Afghanistan situation will figure in the summit with discussions expected also on China. Sources said that while RIC was a trilateral engagement, they expected the need to call out Pakistan based terror groups will figure unambiguously in joint documents with Russia.
The joint communique issued after the 18th RIC virtual meeting had left out LeT and JeM even as it stressed the necessity of urgent elimination of UNSC proscribed terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, ISIL and others for lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region. It is learnt that India also, in turn, ensured there was no mention of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Uyghur extremist group accused of fanning separatism in China’s Xinjiang province. India also insisted on mentioning that those financing terrorism are held accountable in keeping with, among other things, FATF standards.
In a tweet, immediately after the RIC meeting, foreign minister S Jaishankar asserted Afghan territory must not be used for terror activities by terrorist groups like LeT and JeM and that global expectations of Afghanistan were articulated by UNSC resolution 2593 passed under India’s presidency earlier this year. India has in the past accused China of having double standards in dealing with terrorism perpetrated by UNSC proscribed individuals and groups.
In the run-up to Putin’s visit, any Russia-Ukraine conflagration was unlikely to affect India’s ties with Moscow, government sources said. While admitting that Moscow continues to nurse serious reservations about the Indo-Pacific and Quad initiatives, sources said India was already working with Russia in the region as evident from the ongoing work on the Chennai-Vladivostok corridor and that both countries believed in ASEAN centrality.
On S-400, government sources said without elaborating on the delivery timeline that India’s defence acquisitions would continue to be guided by strategic autonomy and security interests.
Russian news agency TASS reported that Ushakov said that Putin would arrive in India in late afternoon Moscow time, head straight to the meeting venue and return to Russia immediately after the end of the talks. Official sources here said the president will also attend a dinner before his departure.
Describing the Afghanistan situation as a common concern, Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev said Saturday the 2 leaders were expected to reaffirm their commitment to a peaceful Afghanistan. “Several priorities like inclusive government, fighting terror and drugs, humanitarian assistance and securing lives. One could also expect a sizeable amount of agreements and memoranda,” Kudashev was quoted as saying by TASS.