It all makes sense now. On January 31, India had abstained from voting against Russia at the United Nations Security Council. India had abstained from a vote on whether the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should take up the situation in Ukraine as a possible threat to international peace and security.
India was joined in its abstention by Kenya and Gabon. For its support and for not buckling under American pressure, Russia even thanked India. The development showed how India prioritised its ties with Russia and was willing to stand with Moscow on the Ukraine question.
However, India’s move to subtly support Russia was not made in isolation. Just a day before the UNSC vote, Russia had made a big move that would go on to convince New Delhi that Moscow is indeed committed to ties between the two countries. You see, Pakistan is a headache for the world community. Nobody except China wants to entertain Pakistan. Russia, particularly – being a close ally of India, does not have the time to sit and talk with Islamabad and its leaders.
Vladimir Putin Denied Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan a Meeting
A day before the UNSC vote, on January 30, it was reported that Russia had snubbed Pakistan and denied Islamabad’s request to hold a bilateral meeting between Imran Khan and Vladimir Putin. When asked if Moscow was receiving requests for meetings on the sidelines of the ceremony, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov informed Russia’s state-run news agency TASS, that Putin does not plan to hold bilateral meetings with other leaders who will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.
Naturally, Russia cited the Covid-19 situation as the reason for the meeting not being held. Covid-19 has become an easy escape route in international diplomacy these days. Whenever some head of state wants to avoid meeting their counterpart from another country, the Covid-19 situation is cited.
Dmitry Peskov said, “So the Russian president’s schedule for the Beijing trip does not include any bilateral meetings for obvious reasons.”
This is the second time plans for a bilateral have not come to fruition. Imran Khan and Vladimir Putin were to meet at the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Dushanbe in September 2021. Back then, Putin had pulled out of the summit at the last moment. Pakistan has been receiving one grand snub after the other from Moscow, and yet, it continues trying to get an audience for Imran Khan from Vladimir Putin. That speaks to Islamabad’s shamelessness.
Russia Annoyed with Pakistan
Russia has many reasons to snub Pakistan. The country supports the Taliban regime in Afghanistan – which Moscow views as a threat. Pakistan funds and runs a robust terror industry that exports violent extremists across the globe, especially into India. And then, Russia also views a China-Pakistan nexus in Afghanistan as a destabilising factor for Central Asia, which Moscow considers its exclusive sphere of influence.
In September 2020, Pakistan, in blatant disregard of the norms and guidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, displayed a fictitious map showing sovereign Indian territories of Kashmir and Junagadh as part of Pakistan. This shameless and cheap display by Pakistan was seen at the meeting of the National Security Advisors of the SCO member states. India’s NSA, Ajit Doval staged a walk-out of the said high-level meeting in protest, following Pakistan’s infantile and undiplomatic display of a false map.
Back then, Russia had strictly pulled up Pakistan. Nikolai Patrushev, Russian NSA, had conveyed that he was personally very grateful to NSA Ajit Doval for attending the SCO Summit. He had said, “Russia does not support what Pakistan has done and hopes that Pakistan’s provocative act will not affect India’s participation in SCO and not cast any shadow on Patrushev’s warm personal relationship for NSA for whom he has the highest regard. Patrushev hopes to see NSA at forthcoming events.”Moscow was reported to be upset with Pakistan’s efforts to dilute the spirit of the SCO summit and Eurasian architecture.
Just that month, before Pakistan, pulled the map-stunt in a meeting hosted by Russia, Moscow had reiterated its commitment to India and had also assured the Indian Defence Minister that it will not be selling any arms and weapon systems to Pakistan. In July, the Russian government had rejected Pakistan’s request to buy new-generation Kalashnikov rifles, commonly known as AK, assuring India that there will not be any military deal with Islamabad.
Russia’s alliance with India is far too important for it to sacrifice at Pakistan’s altar, which is why Islamabad and its Prime Minister have been humiliated internationally once again.