NEW DELHI :
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday slammed the concept of an Indo-Pacific region that he described as a construct aimed at containing China.
Speaking at the fifth Raisina Dialogue an annual forum that brings together foreign and defence ministers besides strategic experts from around the world– Lavrov recalled that Russia had in 2016 proposed its own vision of an inclusive Eurasian region that stretched from the Portugese capital Lisbon in the west to the Indonesian capital Jakarta in the east.
“Our western friends use language like international law less and less instead they have coined a new term which is rules based world order and what kind of rules do they offer?" Lavrov said, noting that the Indo-Pacific “concept" introduced by the US was backed by Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea. The Indo-Pacific strategy was an attempt to “reconfigure the existing structures in the Asia Pacific region to move from ASEAN centered consensus seeking forms of interaction to something that would be divisive," the Russian foreign minister said.
In the 21st century, the international community needed to get rid of methods of dealing with international relations that betray colonial or neocolonial characteristics, he said.
Asking why the US needed to coin the new Indo-Pacific concept, Lavrov said: “The answer is to contain China. It is not even hidden, you know. As I said our Indian friends are smart enough to understand this threat and not to get into it," he said underlining the need for “formats" that unite.
The Russian foreign minister’s comments are seen as supportive of China that has been extremely wary of the “Indo-Pacific." Last year, the foreign ministers of India, US, Australia and Japan met in Washington, elevating the level of discussions from official to ministerial level. Ties between Russia and China have warmed after the US and the EU imposed sanctions on Moscow following the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. New Delhi which was seen as close to Moscow during the Cold War years has been watching the growth of close ties between Russia and China warily. New Delhi is also watching the growth of ties between Russia and Pakistan – India’s arch rival – closely too.
In his remarks, Lavrov also backed India’s entry into the UN Security Council, the world’s highest decision making body. “The only deficiency of the Security Council is under representation of the developing countries and we repeatedly reiterated our position that India and Brazil absolutely deserve to be on the Council with an African candidate and our position is that the purpose of the reform was the developing countries have better treatment in the central organ of the United Nations," he said.
Talks for revamping the UN Security Council have been on for years but no consensus has been reached on which are the countries that qualify to sit at the global high table in addition to the current veto wielding five permanent members – Russia, US, UK, France and China.