Russian Foreign Minister will arrive on 2 day visit to India on 05 April with focus on President Putin’s upcoming visit and Afghanistan agenda. He will be accompanied by Russian special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov. There were a lot of negative media reports about Russia trying to keep India out of Afghan Peace Talks last month whereas Biden Administration had included India as an essential partner in the peace initiatives in Afghanistan. While Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the reports as attempt to inject mistrust between the all weather allies through disinformation and the peace talks were a continuation of earlier process, the ripples caused by Russian decision may be felt during the bilateral discussions. The visit by Russian FM Sergei Lavrov and his Afghan envoy is also seen as an opportunity to address India’s concerns and clear apprehensions if any on both sides.
However, post India visit, Lavrov will be stopping over in Pakistan for two days, seemingly a long visit by a Russian FM to Pakistan in recent times. It is sure to raise some eyebrows, especially after leaving out India from March 18 Afghan peace talks between China, Pakistan, Russia and USA which gave rise to lot of speculations. Recently, Russia has started engaging more with Pakistan both economically and even militarily which could be a potential thorn in the time tested India Russia relations. India aligning with Quad, increasing defence cooperation with USA and uncertainty over the S400 Air Defence Systems deal could become catalysts for a Russia Pakistan strategic relationship as seen from a Russian viewpoint.
The India visit is expected to lay down the roadmap for future engagements, defence projects and Sputnik -V vaccine manufacturing by Indian pharma companies culminating in a Modi-Putin summit in the near future.