Panel to decide the country’s membership to the Wassenaar Arrangement today

Russia is speaking to China at “all levels” for India’s membership at the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and hopes that India will win membership to the Wassenaar Arrangement, another multilateral technology regime India has applied to, Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said here on Wednesday.

Mr. Ryabkov disclosed that the political committee of the 41-member Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, that is meeting in Vienna on Wednesday and Thursday, is likely to decide on India’s membership request, and said he hoped for some “positive action, fingers crossed.”

“This is an example and reflection of Russia’s unwavering support to India’s membership of international nuclear control regimes,” he added, speaking to journalists after meeting Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, and Secretary (Economic Relations) Vijay Gokhale, who is now the Sherpa for the BRICS grouping as well.

Unwavering support

Taking a dig at the United States for not pushing China to remove its objections to India’s membership at the NSG as Russia had, Mr. Ryabkov said, “Unlike some other countries that only speak of support, Russia takes actual steps to help and actions speak more than words…We make this point in the contacts with the Chinese at different levels, and India should be confident of Russia’s assistance.”

Mr. Ryabkov was in Delhi for bilateral negotiations ahead of a spate of visits from Moscow over the next few weeks. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj before a Russia-India-China (RICS) meeting along with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin later this month.

Russia’s role is considered more important this year as it retains close ties with both India and China, two countries who have tense ties with each other. This will be the first visit to India by the Chinese Foreign Minister since the Doklam standoff as well. The meeting is also being seen as an attempt by India to balance a perceived pro-U.S. tilt, coming after the first meeting of the U.S.-Japan-Australia-India “Quad” last month, and the upcoming India-Japan-Australia trilateral, also due to take place next week.

BRI initiative

Another key issue likely to be discussed during the RIC will be China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road initiative (BRI) that India opposes, but Russia is a major partner in. “We are happy that we are discussing connectivity issues in an open-minded and constructive manner with both India and China. I hope our work at BRICS would help assuage such concerns,” he said.