Finance Minister Says India Wants To Be A Strong Ally Of The West
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India wants to be strong friends with the West, but it needs Russia's help to defend its borders. The statement was passed following criticism about India's refusal to condemn Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine.
Among the world's major buyers of Russian weapons is India, which uses them to deter aggression from neighbours Pakistan and China - two countries that have long cooperated on defence issues. As the US has traditionally sought to balance ties between India and Pakistan, which for years has been an important ally in Afghanistan, Washington has recently courted New Delhi to counter China.
“In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, God forbid, if there are alliances created, India has to be strong enough to protect itself.” Sitharaman said in an interview.
Sitharaman said the Modi government has already conveyed this "unique" geopolitical position to the US. “India wants to be friends with the European Union and the Western, free, liberal world, but not as a weak friend that needs desperate help here and there.
According to the statement, the US warned China against providing "material support" to Russia and offered support to India to reduce its dependence on Russian defence equipment. Sitharaman said India-US ties have “actually moved forward”
Sitharaman responded, "at the moment, there is no transaction of that significance" when asked whether India is still looking for an alternative payment mechanism for Russia to overcome sanctions that kept Russia out of the Swift international payments system. However, she did not elaborate.