By: Pramod Thomas
STRONGER ties with India are more important than ever before in view of the crisis in Ukraine, British foreign secretary Liz Truss said Thursday (31), but she said the UK would not tell India not to buy discounted Russian oil.
Her comments came after talks with India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar.
Truss said the Ukraine crisis highlighted the need for “like-minded nations” to work together and that developments in that country will have far-reaching implications for the globe.
“Strengthening the relationship with India is more important than it has ever been precisely because we are living in a more insecure world, precisely because we have (Russia president Vladimir) Putin’s appalling invasion of Ukraine,” she said.
“I think it is very significant that sanctions are applied on Russia,” she said. Truss was speaking at the India-UK Strategic Futures Forum along with Jaishankar.
She conceded that for many years, many western nations had prioritised cheap prices and resources over long term security interests.
In her opening comments at the talks, Truss stressed respecting the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international law.
Jaishankar outlined the progress in the implementation of the Roadmap 2030 adopted in May by UK and India prime ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi, respectively, last year.
Ahead of the talks, the British High Commission said in a statement that Truss will convey to Jaishankar that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underlines the importance of democracies to work together to deter “aggressors” and reduce vulnerability to “coercion”.
Jaishankar noted how geographic proximity meant priorities varied for different countries and illustrated the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan to make the point.
There has been a flurry of visits by foreign dignitaries to India in the last few days.
US deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh arrived in India on Wednesday (30) while Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Delhi this evening (31).
Truss wants to “counter” Russia’s aggression and reduce global strategic dependence on Moscow for oil and gas ahead of key NATO and G7 meetings next week.
“Deeper ties between Britain and India will boost security in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and create jobs and opportunities in both countries,” Truss said, according to the statement.
“This matters even more in the context of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and underlines the need for free democracies to work closer together in areas like defence, trade and cyber security,” she added.