India Not Dancing to Washington’s Tune
April 12, 2022 (EIRNS)—Following multiple threatening visits by senior U.S. officials to New Delhi, the April 6 diktat from Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman that “we, obviously, would prefer that India move away from their long-term history of non-alignment G77 partnership with Russia”; and a personal intervention by President Biden before the Washington meeting of the two countries’ diplomatic and defense ministers on April 11—at the end of the day, India did not bow to the key U.S. demands: That India condemn Russia as responsible for the Ukraine war and human rights violations, and that India slow, and then stop its energy and defense purchases from Russia.
Russia is not mentioned in the final statement issued after the “2+2” ministerial, and Ukraine is mentioned only once, and then only to report that “the Ministers reviewed mutual efforts to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine” and urged an immediate cessation of hostilities.
The White House had arranged for a call between Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi immediately before the 2+2 was to begin. Publicly, Biden said they would be discussing the effects of “the Russian war”; Modi spoke of his personal efforts to foster direct talks between the Presidents of Russia and Ukraine, and India’s hopes that the ongoing negotiations between those countries would lead to peace. The “senior administration official” who gave a background briefing on the private one-hour talk which followed, four times described their talk as “candid” or “very candid”—standard diplomatic language for a brawl.
Washington’s arrogance is impressive: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters afterwards that Biden had “conveyed” to Modi that “it is not in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and other commodities,” and made “clear what the impact ... of our sanctions would be.” She also reported that Biden “made clear that we would be happy to help them in diversifying” energy imports, to not rely on Russia.
“Diversifying” means giving up fossil fuels, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made clear in the joint press conference after the 2+2. He acknowledged India’s huge power needs (“India is the third largest consumer of energy in the world.... Electricity demand is projected to double by 2030”), but asserted that the way to meet “the needs of the Indian people, the Indian economy” is by fulfilling India’s COP26 climate goals. He offered work being done at the Energy Bureau of the State Department “on the most economical decarbonization pathways.”
Add to all this, the brazen admission by the senior Biden administration official giving the background briefing, that the U.S. views India’s border conflict with China as useful to its designs to swing India against Russia: “We know that India has concerns about the links between Russia and China. India, of course, is facing a very tense situation along the Line of Actual Control. And when India sees the tight links between China and Russia, that’s obviously going to impact their thinking,” the unnamed official volunteered.