By Haider Abbas
The forth-coming G-7 Summit is to be organized in Germany in the coming month of June, and India, as it was quite expected, is likely to be given a cold-shoulder as there are already signals that India would not be invited to join the summit, ostensibly out of its reluctance to condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine, which started on February 24 and does not seem to be abated as yet. It has been reported by Bloomberg , that there is now an on-going debate inside Germany weighing into the options of not inviting India, nothing is official as yet.
It has been reported that, ‘Germany is debating whether to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Group of Seven summit it’s hosting in June, given India’s reluctance to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter. Germany is set to include Senegal, South Africa and Indonesia as guests at the meeting in Bavaria, but India remains under consideration, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential matters. One of the people said India had been on a list drawn up before the war in Ukraine started, and a final decision hadn’t been taken. India was among the more than 50 countries that abstained from a United Nations vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, and has not imposed sanctions on Moscow. It is a significant buyer of Russian weapons, which it says it needs to deter its neighbors China and Pakistan. Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Berlin would present its list of guest attendees as soon as it is finalized. “The chancellor has repeatedly made clear that he would like to see as many international partners as possible joining the sanctions,” Hebestreit said’.
It is also ironic to note that Germany itself has come under criticism for its continued reliance on Russian energy products as around 40% of its gas is imported from Russia. While there are also reports that since February India has increased the import of Russian oil due to its low-cost, while US has warned India to buy Russian energy products and instead has offered that US is ready to help India diversify its energy needs.
But, no sooner the report was published, the over drive from media-machinery inside the country started and WIONews that ‘Germany has informally intimated New Delhi its intent to invite India for the G7 summit. A formal invite is expected soon from Berlin to India. The summit is due to take place from June 26-28 at Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps’. If a careful eye is to be put, the WIONews report says ‘informally’, which perhaps shows an over drive of the Pro-BJP media to salvage the damage-control. India is not a member of G-7 nations.
What would merit an attention is that G-7 is a group of seven nations which are an overwhelming and the biggest economies of the world and consists of Canada, US, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan and France. The prime objective of this G-7 collective is to safeguard human rights, law and order and a consistent march towards development which has been going on since 1973. The beginning of this group, takes its origin into the world-oil-crisis, when the Arab states had an embargo on oil exports to the world, after Israel had waged a war against Palestine. Until 2014 Russia was also a part of it, but when it took over Crimea , it had to bow-out of it. India has always played as a guest in its summits but which this time seem to be in doldrums, primarily for the reason that India has as yet maintained a ‘neutral stand’ towards the Russian-Ukraine crisis, which is for the sake that India had always been into the Soviet bloc, for decades, and has only recently started to look beyond Russia, and courting US instead.
For a big country like India, it does not matter much if it deserts Russia or embraces it, but what does seem is the overall US game plan to wean out India from the stranglehold of Russia, for a long time to come, and this is quite incumbent too, as after all, India and US had signed BECA, at the fag end of the US President Donald Trump government in 2020. No wonder US has made Germany to arm-twist India to comply with condemnation of Russia or else loose being at the stage at G-7. If this works, it would give a blow to Indo-Russian relations, more particularly, when it is Russian technical expertise which is sought from New Delhi, for the overall maintenance of its weaponry, imported from Russia in all these last decades. It is quite a known fact that 70% of Indian defence arms are Russian made.
If this does not happen, and India continues to entertain Russia, then there might be some bitterness from Germany and other powerful European nations which India might find difficult to assail as Europe led NATO is standing heavily behind Ukraine, with continuous supply of aid worth millions of dollars from US, apart from US/NATO sponsored sanctions on Russia. India has also till date not announced any sanctions on Russia yet. What therefore seem is the nerves-game played out so as to testify to Indian stand and it is being touted that the G-7 list is still not final. This all is despite the US to have warned India quite a few times in the recent days. India’s PM Narendra Modi had a virtual meeting with US President Joseph Biden, its Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar too have just visited US. Perhaps, the Western countries wants to wreak Russian economy through a ‘no’ from India as India is one of the biggest markets in the world.
There is yet to be any stand to come-out from the BJP led government, particularly as US has made all-out efforts to pressurize India, as in the first week of April US Chief Economic Advisor Brian Deeze had ranged India and China ‘as together’ to have disappointed US, such a similarity is nothing short of a shock-surprise to the Indian establishment as India and China are both locked-into a conflict in the Himalayas! How could India be categorized with China? Whereas, the fact is that China is into a duel with US in South China sea etc.
In also the first week of April, Daleep Singh 4 , the Deputy NSA of US also had warned India on Russia that Russia would not come to rescue India in its need against China, and no wonder Biden, on the very next day of the starting of Russian-Ukraine war has warned India, in TOI not to stain its relations with its association with Russia. US, by issuing such one-after-the-other warnings, perhaps has played its mastercards to bludgeon India against Russia. Will India ‘fend-it-off’ or ‘scoff- at’ is what time would tell.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international issues.