NEW DELHI – Analysts believe that Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,’s visit to New Delhi is unlikely to affect relations between New Delhi and Moscow. The prime minister was in India to strengthen economic and security cooperation.
New Delhi was under increasing Western pressure to condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. India abstained from a UN resolution deploring Russia, its long-standing ally, and major arms supplier, but did not impose sanctions against Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited New Delhi earlier in the month. He was preceded by Western envoys such as Dalip Singh (Deputy National Security Adviser) and Liz Terra Sri Lanka (British Foreign Secretary). They tried to pressure India to take tougher actions.
This time, however, it was unexpected. Johnson was one of few world leaders to visit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv after the Russian attack started. It was widely considered a gesture of solidarity.
“I think India has made its position clear and it won’t change,” said Harsh V. Pant, head of strategic research at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. Despite these differences he is coming here,” Professor HarshV. Pant, the head of strategic research at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, told Arab News.
“If the issue is the core of the matter, or if it is primarily about Ukraine, he (will be reluctant) to come because he won’t get anything out it.”
Johnson is making his first trip to India since his election in 2019. First, he met business leaders in Gujarat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is from. Gujarat is home to half the British Indian diaspora.
Johnson will leave London for New Delhi to meet Modi Friday. A British Prime Minister’s spokesperson stated earlier this week that leaders from both countries would meet to discuss a new defense partnership and free trade agreement. This was a continuation of their work at the start of the year.
Pant stated that he believes the key point is that both sides are working on a strategy for their relationship. “Trade is becoming a very important part of the discussion for a variety of reasons. One reason is that the UK requires access to new economic centers when it needs them. This is why it is looking at post Brexit economic policy, and India is definitely one of these important parts.
He said that New Delhi wants to be a responsible economic player.
India and Australia signed a free trade deal in April. Similar agreements will be in force with the UAE starting May 1.
Pant said that India is ready to have a dialogue with the UK, which is something that Pant acknowledged.
Anil Trigunayat, the former Indian ambassador to Libya, Malta and Jordan, stated that New Delhi had “gained immense importance” after London’s exit from Europe in 2020.
He stated that this was one of the first trade agreements India has been discussing and that he is trying to push it forward every way he can.
“In the contexts of the Ukraine-Russia crises, I believe India’s position is well-known and may be repeated.”