Daleep Singh, US NSA Deputy

US Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh, who is instrumental in forming US sanctions against Russia, reached India on Thursday ahead of the 2+2 dialogue between the two countries on economic partnerships and strategies next month.

Singh’s visit comes at a time when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be in India for two days from Thursday, his first trip to the country since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last month.

In an exclusive interview with News18, Singh said US sanctions against Russia are aimed at degrading and disabling the country’s military capability in Ukraine, and diminishing its defensive aid to other countries. “We want to be upfront with India on this and be a partner because it accelerates diversification, we can do that,” Singh said.

On security issues, he said China and Russia have declared an unlimited partnership, and the more “Russia becomes China’s junior partner, the more influence China gains over Russia.”

If that happens, it would be “less favourable” to India’s strategic position, he added. “Does anyone think that if China breaches the Line of Control, Russia would come to the defense of India? I don’t,” he stressed.

Edited excerpts:

Q: What message are you sending to the Indian side, especially regarding the sanctions against Russia, as some of these sanctions may also affect a country like India? After all, India continues to deal with Russia in the oil and defense sector.

A: I come here in the spirit of friendship and respect, and true friends have honest and direct dialogue, even on difficult topics, and the truth is that fundamental principles are involved. peace and security all over the world. (Vladimir) Putin drops bombs on maternities, orphanages, the opera, schools. It is a violation of international laws and, as I mentioned, fundamental principles. You can redraw borders by force, you cannot subjugate the will of free people. Countries have the right to set their course and choose their own destiny. India does not need me or anyone else to explain why these principles are sacred. The imposition of these sanctions on Russia is intended to help Ukraine fight for its freedom. This is the goal of all our efforts. The reality is that defending freedom never costs less. This has an impact on energy and food prices, refugees and trade. But the root cause of these consequences is Putin’s unnecessary war of choice. Dictators must pay the price for their aggression. Otherwise, there will be more chaos in the world. And the cost of threats against America, India, and democracies around the world continues to rise. So that is what is at stake here. If we did nothing and there was unchecked aggression in response to the largest ground invasion since World War II, think of the chilling effect that would cause, the uncertainties, the signal it would send to the autocrats of the world whole. They might want to wield a sphere of influence – maybe on India’s borders. These are not costs that we will accept.

Q: There are visits by Western leaders and diplomats to India. Is this a way of putting pressure on India to change its position vis-à-vis Russia? Or is there an effort to understand?

A: We are living in a historic moment. It is a dangerous moment. President Joe Biden talks about it as one of those inflection points that happens once every several generations. In this case, it is a contest between democracies and autocracies. And people around the world, especially in China and Russia, say that democracies are too slow and messy. They are too noisy to face the great challenges of our time. So I think the time has come for democracies to step up their solidarity and show that despite all their flaws, democracies still offer the best way to bring dignity to all. That is why I am here and I seek to work with all of our democratic partners in a spirit of friendship and respect.

Q: There is going to be a 2+2 dialogue between India and the United States and a QUAD summit in the coming months, all in the shadow of the Ukraine crisis. Has the equation between India and the United States changed because of the Ukraine crisis and could that be reflected in any of these meetings?

A: I would say that the overall equation between the United States and India has changed over more than 30 years. The Ukrainian crisis only accelerates this process. If we take the economic relationship, I think for a large part the Cold War.

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