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US Deputy NSA Faces Backlash in India for Threatening ‘Consequences’ Over Expanding Russia Ties

© REUTERS / ANUSHREE FADNAVISA poster in support of Russia, stuck by the right-wing group Hindu Sena, is seen in Connaught Place, in New Delhi, India, March 6, 2022
A poster in support of Russia, stuck by the right-wing group Hindu Sena, is seen in Connaught Place, in New Delhi, India, March 6, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.04.2022
US President Joe Biden chastised India for its stance on Ukraine, describing New Delhi’s response as “shaky” and not in sync with Washington’s other allies and partners in Europe and the Pacific. While the White House has said that India’s oil imports from Russia won’t violate Western sanctions, it also asked Delhi to not support Moscow.
US Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA) for International Economic Cooperation Daleep Singh has incurred the wrath of the Indian public after warning India of "consequences" if it ducks Western sanctions and continues to increase its energy as well as overall commercial ties with Russia.
Singh, a Biden administration official, was visiting New Delhi on 30 and 31 March.
He met Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal as well as Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla during his two-day trip, as per pictures shared by the Indian government. However, no official readout has been released by either side about the meetings.

Significantly, Singh’s meetings with Indian officials took place just hours before Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov landed in Delhi.

The Indian-American official addressed a select group of Indian journalists on Thursday, as per reports in the Indian media.
Activists of Hindu Sena, a Hindu right-wing group, hold placards and flags as they take part in a march in support of Russia,  New Delhi, India, March 6, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.03.2022
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Singh said that the US wouldn’t like to see a “rapid acceleration” of India’s imports from Russia, whether it be energy or any other items which prohibited by Washington and other Western allies under the set of coordinated sanctions.

“I come here in a spirit of friendship to explain the mechanisms of our sanctions, the importance of joining us to express shared resolve and to advance shared interests. And yes, there are consequences to countries that actively attempt to circumvent or backfill these sanctions”, he reportedly remarked.

The response was to a question about Indian companies deciding to buy discounted Russian crude offered by Moscow.

Further, Singh also reckoned in his interaction that Moscow won’t come to “India’s defence” if the Chinese People's Liberation's Army (PLA) breach the Line of Actual Control (LAC) again.

“No one should kid themselves – Russia is going to be the junior partner in this relationship with China. And the more leverage that China gains over Russia, the less favourable that is for India”, he remarked.

In June 2020, Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Galwan Valley region of the disputed eastern Ladakh border, resulting in the deaths of 20 Indian and five Chinese soldiers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said back then that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tried to transgress into Indian territory, but was pushed back.
The military standoff between India and China erupted in May 2020 and has involved thousands of troops deployed by both countries.
Over a dozen rounds of military-commander level negotiations as well as official meetings have failed to resolve the standoff.
Daleep Singh’s blunt remarks warning New Delhi of “consequences” haven’t gone down well with the Indian public.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a veteran Indian MP and prominent lawyer, has questioned if the US ever came forward to help Delhi in the past when the PLA “breached the LAC”.

Noted Indian strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney echoed Singhvi’s observations.

“China has been waging border aggression against India for 23 months by breaching the LAC, but Biden refuses to open his mouth on that issue”, Chellaney remarked.

Former Indian diplomat Pinak Chakravarty called out Singh for his “inexperience” in lecturing the Indian government in public.

“US Deputy NSA Daleep Singh's public remarks in Delhi may earn him brownie points in Washington but here it is being seen as a wrong move. Hectoring public remarks are a sure way of queering the pitch in bilateral ties. Maybe this is for public consumption”, he remarked.

Many Indian netizens also criticised Singh for “talking down” to India, which was rather reflective of the overall public sentiment towards the US official’s statements.
Officially, New Delhi has rejected "unilateral" sanctions imposed by the US, EU, and other allies against Russia.

While India has maintained a neutral stance on the crisis in Ukraine and abstained from voting at a United Nations (UN) resolution that dubbed Moscow as the “aggressor”, the government at the same time has called for respecting the UN Charter.

The Indian political leadership has said that the “territorial integrity” of all countries must be upheld.

Prime Minister Modi, in a conversation with President Vladimir Putin, called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged a dialogue to resolve the differences.
President Putin launched a "special military operation" aimed at the demilitarisation and de-Nazification of Ukraine on 24 February. Moscow has said that it would cease its military action if Kiev enshrines a "neutral" status in its constitution and pledges that it never join NATO.
Following the most recent round of peace talks on 29 March between Ukraine and Russia to end the conflict, Russian negotiators said that Moscow would “drastically reduce” its military activity around the Kiev and Chernigov regions.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has stated that he is ready to negotiate on the Russian demands for adopting a neutral status and not joining NATO.

“Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point", Zelensky said in an interview this week.

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