Russia on Monday said its ties with India are under some "stress" due to the current tectonic geo-political shifts in view of the "arrogant" approach of the US-led West on the Ukraine conflict including its sanction regime against Moscow that caused disruptions in financial and logistics mechanisms.
In his address at a conference, Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov also accused the US of "actively" exploiting the "contradictions" between India and China to its advantage and asserted Moscow and New Delhi accumulated mutual trust and confidence based on decades-old ties that would help the two sides to deal with the current geopolitical turbulence.
He said that the mechanism for Rupee-Rouble trade between India and Russia has been established, but added that the Indian banks have been "over-cautious" to use it even though the system is not going to invite any restrictions from the US side.
Alipov also asserted that Moscow will maintain the levels of exports including petroleum products to India notwithstanding the Western price cap on Russian crude oil.
The ambassador said Russia wants to further diversify its relations with India and that bilateral ties are not aimed against anyone but are for meeting the core aspirations of the two nations.
"Today, however, our ties are under stress as we face tectonic geo-political shifts that have been underway for quite some time, but accelerated last year by crossing the red lines in Europe; not by us, but by the so-called collective West led by the US, (which is) by far the most arrogant and belligerent," he said.
Explaining his comments, Alipov said the western sanctions have disrupted the transaction and logistics mechanisms.
"When I spoke about stress, I specifically meant economic relations. The sanctions that interfered... they disrupted the transaction mechanisms and the logistics mechanisms," he said.
"On all these issues, both sides are in very close dialogue. They are very precise and concrete suggestions and a very professional exchange of ideas and proposals from both sides," he said.
On bilateral trade and Western sanctions, he said the Rupee-Rouble mechanism has been established for economic engagement.
"The Vostro accounts have been opened. The mechanism for Rupee-Rouble trade has been established. It is now a matter for the banks to use it," he said.
Alipov said the Indian banks are "over-cautious" to use this Rupee-Rouble mechanism, though it is not going to invite any restrictions from the US. "But that's the fear. The banks would like to be on the safe side. It will take some more time for the knowledge that it is not at all detrimental for the Indian banking system," he added.
The envoy said Moscow wants to expand its economic engagement with Islamabad as a "weak" Pakistan is not good for the entire region including India.
In a tweet later, he clarified that he meant a "destabilised" Pakistan is not in the interest of anyone in the region.
The conference on 'Next Steps in India-Russia Strategic Partnership; Old Friends New Horizons' was organised by the India Writes Network and the Centre for Global India Insights.
Responding to a question, Alipov said Russia would like to see normalisation of India-China relations and that it would hugely benefit the whole world's security and not only Asian security.
"We understand there are very serious impediments to that, a very serious border problem between the two countries. We had a border problem with China, an armed conflict with the Chinese at some stage of the problem, it took us around 40 years to negotiate but ultimately this is the only way to find a solution," he said.
"I am not going to suggest what India or China should do... This is entirely a bilateral matter between India and China and we don't interfere with that.
"But the sooner there is a normalisation between the two countries, the better for the whole world. We will do the utmost to facilitate (that) if our efforts are needed," Alipov said.
Explaining his comments on India-Russia ties coming under "stress", the envoy pointed out the impact of Western sanctions on trade and economic engagement between the two sides.
Alopov said Russia wants to diversify its overall cooperation with India and the ties between the two countries are not directed against anyone.
On Russia's overall ties with India, he said, "Internationally, we have always been on the same page, again something very contrasting with the US approach to India." "Unlike them (the US), we don't need to explain to each other and the world that close partnership between us was not possible in the past for some reason," he said.
Alipov claimed that the approach of the US towards India could change if it finds a new rapprochement with China or New Delhi manages to mend relations with Beijing.
"That, from the US perspective, will be a disaster.
"But from ours, and I believe from India's and China's point of view, it would be the most favourable outcome for the world at large. Any of these scenarios, America's hegemony would suffer," he said.
"That is why it actively exploits the contradictions between India and China to its advantage," he said, adding a new paradigm of democracies versus autocracies is emerging so that the US retains the decisive say amongst its like-minded partners.
Alipov said India and Russia have accumulated a solid experience of "mutual trust, understanding and support" over the last few decades which gives the two sides a sense of confidence in dealing with current geopolitical turbulence.
The ambassador said Russia steadfastly supports India's growing global role and its aspirations to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
"India's significance for Russia as a key international partner is clearly going to grow. Much has been done to solidify our unique and multifaceted special and privileged strategic partnership. There is a rich agenda catering to the requirements of global transformation," he said.
The ties between India and Russia remained strong notwithstanding Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. India's import of Russian crude oil has gone up significantly in the last few months despite increasing disquiet over it in many Western countries.
India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
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