Amid the India-China standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh region, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid a three-day visit to Russia this week. During his visit, the Defence Minister participated in the grand military parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of Soviet victory over Germany in the Second World War and held talks with top Russian military officials in Moscow.
Ahead of the Defence Minister’s Moscow visit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted a virtual Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting during when Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi engaged in talks after the June 15 border clash, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed at the hands of Chinese forces.
In view of these developments, Russia has surprisingly emerged as a crucial diplomatic player in the midst of the India-China tensions. Taking note of the strategic partnership with India and China, Moscow has been maintaining a diplomatic stance towards the border dispute between the two neighbouring countries. Evidently, the Sino-India border crisis has put Russia in a difficult position over its stance on the matter.
Russia’s ties with China have grown exponentially over the past few years. Moreover, amid the US-China tensions in the wake of COVID-19 crisis, Moscow’s relations with Beijing have bolstered in the geopolitical discourse. At the same time, the relationship between India and Russia has grown in various areas over the past seven decades. The strongest partnership has developed in the defence sector with India’s estimated 60-70% defence supplies coming from Russia. With Moscow’s ambitions in the Asian region, it is paramount that Russia plays a constructive role in de-escalating the tensions between both its strategic partners.
In the wake of the clash between Indian and Chinese troops on June 15, Russian officials have been in conversation with Indian officials at multiple diplomatic levels. However, there have been reportedly no talks between Russian and Chinese officials over the standoff.
Meanwhile, both Indian and Chinese officials have maintained that negotiations are taking place bilaterally. During the RIC meeting, even Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted that India and China do not require help in resolving their bilateral issues. Interestingly, experts have stated that both India and China deliberately turned to Russia for a neutral intermediary at the time when US President Donald Trump expressed his intentions in “mediating” the dispute between the two countries.