Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (Photo: AFP)
New Delhi: Russia can give India any defence platform and weaponry it wants, the country’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.
Speaking to an Indian TV channel, he also termed the transfer of defence technology to India as "unprecedented" among the foreign nations that India has ties with. Mr Lavrov also said that Moscow is in favour of the continuing direct negotiations between India and China to resolve their bilateral differences. He also hailed India’s external affairs minister S. Jaishankar as a "great patriot" for taking decisions solely on the basis of India’s own national interests, an obvious reference to New Delhi’s firm resolve to continue its close ties with Moscow despite pressure from the West.
It may be noted that Mr Lavrov had visited New Delhi earlier this month and held detailed discussions with Mr Jaishankar, besides calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The subject of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine had been discussed in great detail then at the bilateral talks, besides the issue of maintaining bilateral defence and economic ties in the face of the crippling Western sanctions on Russia. India has so far refused to criticise Russia but has been constantly calling for immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine. This also comes as the West has been mounting pressure on India to not buy Russian weaponry and oil.
India is acquiring the crucial S-400 missiles from Russia. India has had close strategic ties with Russia and its earlier avatar, the erstwhile Soviet Union, spanning decades ever since India’s independence in 1947.
"On defence, we can give India anything it wants. The technology transfer (from Russia) is unprecedented among India’s outside partners," Mr Lavrov told the TV channel. Asked about the Sino-Indian border dispute, he said: "We welcome the discussions between India and China", adding that Russia wanted to further strengthen the trilateral Russia-India-China (RIC) format that he said was envisaged by Moscow way back in 1996 and made a reality.
The Russian foreign minister also reiterated his country’s position on the Ukraine conflict and blamed Ukraine’s government for the situation.