India built its partnership with Russia out of necessity as America was not in a position to do that earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told a Congressional hearing, underlining that Washington is now investing in that effort.
Blinken, during a Congressional hearing by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations on Wednesday, said that the India-US partnership has the potential to be one of the most important and foundational partnerships going forward over the next decades.
Amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US has been pressing India and other nations to impose sanctions on Moscow and reduce their reliance on Russian weapons, oil and other commodities.
“In the case of India, there is a relationship that goes back decades. And Russia, for India, was out of necessity a partner of choice when we were not in a position to be a partner,” he said in response to a question from Senator William Hagerty.
“Now, we are investing in that effort. I think there is a growing strategic convergence between the United States and India.
“And of course, China is a big part of that,” Blinken said.
Hagerty, a Republican Senator, had sought Blinken’s views on the India-US relationship.
“What I see before us is something I’m certain that is very frustrating in the short-term when we have our differences and you deal with that every day.
“But in the long-term, the strategic partnership that we have with India I think poses the opportunity to do more good in the 21st century,” Hagerty said.
In response, Blinken said that he very much shares the perspective shared by the Senator.
“I think this partnership has the potential to be one of the most important and foundational partnerships that we have going forward over the next decades,” he said.
Blinken said US President Joe Biden has spent “a lot of time directly engaging with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and India’s leadership”.
“We have energised the Quad that brings India together with Australia and Japan and us. This has been a very important vehicle for strengthening our collaboration across a whole variety of fronts with India.
“What’s interesting is this is a moment of strategic inflection, by which I mean this. A number of countries are now relooking at some of their relationships and some of their interests, particularly when it comes to their relationship with Russia,” the top American diplomat added.
India has not yet publicly condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine and has been calling for the resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.
India, a non-permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council for a two-year term ending December this year, has repeatedly abstained on resolutions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Since January this year, India has abstained on at least eight occasions on procedural votes and draft resolutions in the UN Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council that deplored Russian aggression against Ukraine.
New Delhi had earlier this month unequivocally condemned the deeply disturbing reports of civilian killings in the Ukrainian city of Bucha and supported the call for an independent investigation, as it underlined that when innocent human lives are at stake, diplomacy must prevail as the only viable option.