Ukraine, Russia know if we can be of any use, says EAM Jaishankar

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NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said that India’s relationship with major powers of the world is very good except for China and noted that New Delhi has goodwill and both Russia and Ukraine know that “if we can be of any use, we will be willing”.

In an interview with ANI, Jaishankar responded to questions on the Ukraine conflict which began on February 24 last year with no sign yet of it ending in the near future.

He said India was involved in some intricacies and had played a role in relation to Ukraine’s concerns about the safety of the Zaporizhzhia power plant by passing some messages to Russia as well as the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).

Jaishankar said that the remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi made to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Uzbekistan in September last year is a widely shared sentiment. PM Modi had told President Putin “today is not the era of war”.

The External Affairs Minister said PM Modi wants somewhere to create a momentum for peace and recalled that the Prime Minister has had conversations with both the Russian President and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“The sentiment that the Prime Minister voiced is a widely shared sentiment. It’s also a sentiment which is particularly strong in the countries of the South. You asked me what the voice of the global South…Today you have a huge number of countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Pacific who feel that our issues are being put on the side and the entire oxygen is being sucked up by the Ukraine conflict. So nobody is really worrying about whether I get food and what cost I get food, what’s happening to fuel, fertilizers, and debt. And today remember, even middle-income countries are going into debt,” Jaishankar said.

“What we want to do, and I think that was very much on the Prime Minister’s mind, he wants somewhere to create a momentum for peace. And I think that was his first public expression. Remember he had been talking to President Putin, and President Zelenskyy on the phone.. In practical ways, we have been helping out when this black sea grain deal was done, we did a little bit there to help. When I was in New York, the Ukrainian Prime Minister actually had some concerns about the safety of the nuclear power plant. So I spoke to our PM and then got his approval to both engage the Russians and pass on some messages there and IAEA as well,” he added.

Jaishankar said developing countries were facing a shortage of fertilizers due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“We are working with the UN Secretary General on some issues, particularly, fertilizer because a lot of the countries of the global South, developing countries, are facing serious fertilizer securities because Russia is one of the biggest exporters of fertilizers. I think it would not be fair today to reduce a very complex issue, the Ukraine conflict to a binary of are you on this side or that side. Are you for peace or for war? I think it’s much more intricate than that and we are involved in some of the intricacies. But we have to wait and see where this goes,” he added in his interview to ANI.

“What both Ukraine and Russia know is that if we can be of any use, we will be willing…our sort of capabilities and sort of goodwill is there for that. We have to wait and see where it goes,” he added.

Answering a query, he said India’s relationship with Russia has been “extraordinarily steady” and “it has been steady through all the turbulence in global politics”. He also responded to opposition criticism about India’s foreign policy.

“Opposition perhaps it is their job to criticise. It would be nice if they do it with a little bit more information and accuracy. But I do think some of what they say needs to be put through some kind of lens, some kind of filter.”

Answering a query, the minister said China had violated border agreements by amassing troops in eastern Ladakh.He also said that QUAD has really been a “very, very effective mechanism.”

“You asked me what your nine-year report card is. My relationship (India’s) with the major powers is very good. I grant that China is an exception. And it is an exception, please notice I said China. C-H-I-N-A. It is an exception because China has violated the agreements that we have and today has a posture on our border, for which I have to have a counter-posture,” he said.

“But overall my relationship with the major powers, if you can call them, is very good. I think our relationship with Europe is probably the best ever we have had. Our relationship in the QUAD… The QUAD has really been a very, very effective mechanism,” he added. (ANI)

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