NSA Doval talks to Zelenskyy's aide amid Russia's signals on upgrading ties with Pakistan

Doval and Yermak discussed the peace formula proposed by Zelenskyy to end Russia’s 'special military operations' in Ukraine
Last Updated : 15 June 2023, 03:18 IST

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With Moscow signalling its willingness to deepen its ties with India’s arch-rival Pakistan, New Delhi too subtly responded with a phone-call between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s top aide Andriy Yermak.

Doval and Yermak discussed the peace formula proposed by Zelenskyy to end Russia’s “special military operations” in Ukraine. They also discussed about the proposed peace summit, according to a press release issued by the Ukrainian President’s office in Kyiv.

Zelenskyy had briefed Modi about his peace formula when they had a meeting on the sideline of the G7 summit in Hiroshima in Japan last month. The Prime Minister had promised the Ukrainian President that he, in his personal capacity, as well as the Government of India would do whatever would be possible to end the conflict.

Denmark evinced interests to host the peace summit between Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It sought support from China, Brazil and India for the initiative.

Russia, however, long back rejected the peace formula proposed by Ukraine.

Doval had the phone-call with Yermak amid signals from Moscow about Russia’s willingness to deepen and expand Russia’s relations with India’s troublesome neighbour Pakistan, including in the domains of security, politics and economy.

Moscow deployed Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to send a subtle message to New Delhi ahead of Modi’s visit to Washington DC for a meeting with the United States President Joe Biden.

Lavrov said that Russia considered Pakistan “a key international partner in the joint efforts to combat common security challenges and threats, including transborder crime and terrorism”. He made the comment while virtually addressing the people of Pakistan on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Russia’s diplomatic relations with the South Asian nation.

The comment has not gone down well with New Delhi, which has been accusing Pakistan of exporting terror to India.

Russia has since long been the largest supplier of military hardware to India and has been maintaining a low-key relationship with Pakistan. But with the changes in the geopolitical landscape and New Delhi’s growing ties with Washington D.C. since the landmark India-US civil nuclear agreement of 2008, Moscow too had started responding to Islamabad’s overtures to improve bilateral relations. The two sides had also started discussing the sale of Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan in 2014 and the delivery of the choppers had purportedly begun in 2018, although New Delhi had conveyed to Moscow its concerns over the deal. Moscow had also inked a defence cooperation agreement with Islamabad in November 2015 and the two nations had held the first joint military drill in September-October, 2016 – just weeks after India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the US.

Ever since Russia launched its “special military operations” in Ukraine on February 24 last year, India has been drawing flak for not joining the United States and other western nations in condemning the former Soviet Union nation for its aggression against the East European country.

New Delhi has refrained from criticising Moscow, apparently in view of India’s deep Cold War era ties with Russia. While New Delhi has been maintaining the strategic balance in its ties with Moscow and Washington D.C. over the past couple of decades, Modi’s meeting with President Joe Biden in the White House next week is expected to add new momentum to the India-US ties, particularly in the fields of defence as well as critical and emerging technologies.

Published 15 June 2023, 00:43 IST

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