In the last three years, the Narendra Modi government has made intense efforts to get India admitted into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. But India’s entry is being blocked by China for obvious reasons. China has cleverly equated India and Pakistan saying that if India gets admitted then Pakistan should as well. However, India has found a vocal supporter in Russia on the issue.
Russia has strongly come out in support of India saying that India’s application cannot be ‘interlinked’ with that of Pakistan. In fact, Moscow is even discussing the matter with Beijing.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov met foreign secretary S Jaishankar and said this after the meeting: “We recognise that at the moment there is no unanimity on Pakistan’s application and that the same cannot be interlinked with India’s.
“We know about the difficulties involved but unlike some other countries, who only speak, we are making practical efforts…we are discussing it with China at different levels,” he added. This ‘unlike some countries’ may well be a jibe at the US who has also supported India’s entry into the NSG but hasn’t really taken the issue up with China. This is a major development as this is the first time a top Russian diplomat has publicly spoken on the issue and de-hyphenated India and Pakistan’s NSG bid.
Even though the NSG issue isn’t an easy one and will take time before India can be officially admitted into the group, India is on the verge of becoming a part of another very important regime thanks to Russia’s strong support. It is expected that India will soon become a part of the Wassenaar Arrangement which is a 41-nation group that deals with export controls for conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. Notable is the fact that China is not a member of this regime just like it isn’t a member of the MTCR regime.
Ryabkov also said that Russia’s ties with Pakistan will not be at the expense of its ties with India. Russia has repeatedly put forth this point to alleviate any concerns in New Delhi.
India and Russia are also cooperating on a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh which will be the nation’s first. It will India’s first such venture out of Indian territory. This along with many developments including the opening of the INSTC next month all highlight how strong India-Russia ties are.