The external affairs ministry confirmed on Thursday that EAM S Jaishankar will visit Russia on November 7-8 for talks with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov on bilateral relations and a range of regional and global issues, including the war in Ukraine.
Jaishankar will also meet Russian deputy prime minister and trade minister Denis Manturov, his counterpart for the bilateral Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), and discuss issues related to economic cooperation in different domains, the ministry said.
The visit will be part of the regular high-level dialogue between the two sides. Jaishankar last visited Russia in July 2021, which was followed by Lavrov’s trip to New Delhi in April this year.
The discussions between Jaishankar and Lavrov are expected to “cover the entire range of bilateral issues as well as exchange of views on various regional and international developments”, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a weekly news briefing.
In response to several questions, he said India has consistently backed a return to dialogue and diplomacy to find a solution to the conflict in Ukraine. “I’m sure that external affairs minister would certainly be reiterating,” he said.
The visit also comes days ahead of the G20 Summit in Indonesia, where the US and its partners are expected to take on Russia over the Ukraine invasion.
There is also growing speculation that India and Russia may not hold their annual summit this year, though there has been no word from both sides regarding the event, which was to be hosted by Russia.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Uzbekistan in mid-September, and are expected to meet again on the margins of the G20 Summit in Bali on November 15-16.
Putin made a rare visit outside his country since the Covid-19 pandemic began when he travelled to India in December 2021 for the annual summit.
India has largely refrained from publicly criticising the Russian invasion and abstained on most votes and resolutions related to the Ukraine conflict at United Nations’ bodies. It has issued a call for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states as it took up Russia’s offer of discounted commodities, especially crude oil.
The EAM’s visit will take place against the backdrop of growing global concerns about an escalation of the Ukraine conflict, especially following Moscow’s claims that Kyiv plans to use a so-called “dirty bomb”.
The United States warned Russia on Sunday that there will be “catastrophic consequences” if Moscow uses nuclear weapons to hold on to territory in Ukraine. However, US intelligence officials have also said the chances of nuclear weapons being used in the conflict are low.
When Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu made a telephone call to his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh last month to discuss Moscow’s concerns about Kyiv using a “dirty bomb”, Singh made it clear that no side should resort to the nuclear option and the solution must be found only through dialogue.