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‘If I’m Smart Enough…You Should Be Admiring Me’: Jaishankar on India’s Purchase of Russian Oil | Watch

  • February 18, 2024

Last Updated: February 18, 2024, 07:18 IST

EAM S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (not in picture) take part in a panel discussion in Munich, southern Germany on February 17. (Reuters)

EAM S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (not in picture) take part in a panel discussion in Munich, southern Germany on February 17. (Reuters)

Jaishankar defends India’s balanced diplomacy at Munich Security Conference, addresses complexities and advocates for humanitarian approach to Israel-Hamas conflict

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar defended India’s “all-alignment” approach to diplomacy on Saturday, saying that the country should be admired for its ability to foster relationships globally, including with Russia and the United States. However, he advised against labeling India as an “unsentimentally transactional” nation.

Jaishankar made these remarks at the Munich Security Conference in response to a question about whether India’s Western partners approve of its purchase of Russian oil during the Ukraine conflict. Sitting at the panel beside US State Secretary Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, he said, “If I’m smart enough to have multiple options, you should be admiring me.”

“No, you shouldn’t be criticising. Is that a problem for other people? I don’t think so. We’ve tried to explain what are the different pulls and pressures, which countries have. It’s very hard to have a uni-dimensional relationship,” Jaishankar said in response to the question if New Delhi can pick and choose alliances with countries like Russia and the US.

Not ‘unsentimentally transactional’

Elaborating on the question of the alliance, Jaishankar said India’s approach is not “unsentimentally transactional”. “We get along with people. We believe in things, we share things and we agree on something. I think it’s very important today, not to reduce the entire complexity of our world into very sweeping propositions. I think that era today is behind us. So I agree very much with what Tony said, which is good partners, provide choices. Smart partners, take some of those choices,” he added.

On the question of whether the rise of BRICS can pose a challenge for Western countries, Jaishankar mentioned that about 30 countries are willing to join BRICS, seeing value in it. “There must be something good with that,” he said. “It’s important today to make a distinction between being non-West and anti-West. I would certainly characterise India as a country which is non-Western, but which has an extremely strong relationship with Western countries that is improving,” he added.

Israel-Hamas Conflict

When asked to speak on the question of the Israel-Hamas war, Jaishankar said “Number one, we must be clear that what happened on October 7th was terrorism. No caveats, no justification, no explanation. It was terrorism.” “Number two, as Israel responds, it is important that Israel should be, should have been very mindful of civilian casualties, that it has an obligation to observe international humanitarian law,” he said.

“Number three, the return of hostages is today imperative. Number four, there is a need for a humanitarian corridor, a sustainable humanitarian corridor to provide relief. And eventually, there has to be a permanent fix, a long-term fix, otherwise, we’re going to see a recurrence,” he added. Jaishankar further said that India has long believed in a two-state solution, a position the country has maintained for several decades.


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