NEW DELHI: As Covid-19 cases continue to mount in India, the Russian ambassador here, Nikolay Kudashev, has said Moscow is talking to the Indian government “on different levels” about cooperation that could include “supplies, co-development and co-production” of Sputnik V, the first anti-Covid vaccine in the world. The vaccine, according to a Lancet study, has been found in initial trials as causing no serious side effects.
Official sources here confirmed to TOI that Russia had shared formally modalities of cooperation with India on the vaccine and that the Indian government was examining the details.
“As far as we know, after some necessary technical steps, the vaccine would be ready to be widely used, including abroad,” said Kudashev.
The issue is also likely to come up during foreign minister S Jaishankar‘s visit to Moscow this week. Kudashev also said though that Russia hoped to work with India for a “just and multipolar” world order at a time some countries were playing “geopolitical games” despite the pandemic and creating “close-door exclusive blocs”.
This is significant as India, in the face of increasing Chinese military adventurism, looks to give teeth to its Indo-Pacific and Quad policies. In fact, the government only last week announced it will be holding the second Quad ministerial meeting this year in India.
Despite its grand military exercise with India in the Andamans, and also its recent discussions with India and Japan for a trilateral mechanism, Moscow continues to abhor even the term Indo-Pacific, calling it a US-led initiative meant to contain Beijing. India though has sought to address some of these doubts by emphasising in bilateral meetings that the Indo-Pacific is a free, open, transparent and inclusive concept with ASEAN at its centre and that it doesn’t exclude any country.
” Unfortunately we have to admit that in spite of the pandemic some countries keep playing geopolitical games and unilateral extraterritorial sanctions (sic), trying to create close-door exclusive blocs, politicise international institutions including the UN, OPCW, WHO and others. Such policy is obviously increasing mistrust, instability and uncertainty taking us away from the vital solutions,” said Kudashev, addressing a conference.
Kudashev said there was a lack of goodwill and constructive approach and that this had led to chances of enhanced confrontation, arms race and global disorder.
“We hope to further expanding our cooperation with India and other friendly countries to prevent such scenarios (and) move towards just and equal multipolar world order, democratisation of global governance, collective solutions to global and regional problems and close coordination for this purpose at various multilateral institutions,” said Kudashev, adding that the two visits by defence minister Rajnath Singh to Moscow this year, and the upcoming one by Jaishankar, were of huge significance for the same reason.