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UK promises not to lecture India

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that relations between Moscow and New Delhi will be one of the key topics up for discussion during his two-day visit to India to meet with his counterpart Narendra Modi.

The UK has been trying to persuade India to reconsider its close ties to Russia in light of the military conflict in Ukraine. New Delhi has so far refused to condemn Moscow for attacking its neighbor.

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However, Johnson will apparently refrain from trying to “lecture” Modi during his visit, according to the PM’s spokesperson. 

“The UK would not seek to lecture other democratically elected governments on what course of action was best for them. Rather we would look to offer new opportunities which benefited both the people of UK and India,” said Boris Johnson’s spokesperson Max Blain on Tuesday, ahead of the PM’s visit to India.

Blain added that Britain would “work with other countries to provide alternative options for defense procurement and energy for India to diversify its supply chains away from Russia.”

Meanwhile, Indian importers have recently announced plans to increase purchases of Russian crude oil and coal at a discount as Indian coal stockpiles have been experiencing shortages and Moscow’s prices have proven to be much lower than those of Australian and South African coal.

Nevertheless, Johnson insists that both India and the UK should also work to decrease their dependence on foreign energy imports, and suggested the two countries work together to achieve that goal, adding that there are many opportunities for London and New Delhi to increase cooperation in defense and security.

Johnson is also set to discuss trade agreements with the Indian side, which will include cooperation across industries such as technology, software engineering, healthcare and joint satellite launches, with potential deals reportedly worth £1bn ($1.3bn) to the British economy, and promising 11,000 jobs in the UK as a result. The UK also hopes to strike a post-Brexit free trade agreement with India, hoping to sign it “by the autumn,” according to Johnson.

Although India has called for an end to violence in Ukraine, it has refrained from outright condemning Moscow and has chosen instead to focus on stabilizing its economic ties with Russia.

“We have an established economic relationship with Russia. Given the current circumstance post development in Ukraine, I think there is an effort by both sides to ensure that this economic relationship remains stable,” said Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi earlier this month.

Russia and India have also reportedly been working to create a new transaction mechanism for bilateral trade, which would allow for settlements in national currencies, rubles and rupees. After western countries cut off Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging network. Reports have claimed that Moscow and New Delhi may opt for adopting the Russian Financial Message Transfer System (SPFS) for bilateral trade, which would further deepen economic ties between the two countries.

According to analysts, a rupee-ruble trade mechanism is key to continued trade growth between the two countries, as India’s economy needs Russian energy and commodities to grow and Russia needs the huge Indian market to offset the impact of Western sanctions.

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