Tuesday 21, March 2023

EU chief plays on India's fears of China-Russia axis

News Desk: EU's partnership with India on solar power and green hydrogen is critical as it accelerates efforts to diversify away from fossil fuels and invest heavily in clean renewable energy because of Russia's aggression against Ukraine and , European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told PM Narendra Modi in a meeting Monday.

EU has paid Russia 35 billion Euros for energy since Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine as several countries remain reluctant to cut down imports from Russia in a jiffy. Under pressure to not accelerate its "minuscule" oil imports from Russia, India has repeatedly said that it's Europe's energy imports from Russia that's still increasing.

The 2 leaders agreed that as large and vibrant democratic societies, India and Europe share "similar values and a commonality of perspectives on many global issues". "They reviewed the progress in the India-EU Strategic Partnership, including the forthcoming re-commencement of negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement and Investment Agreement," said the government in a statement, adding they discussed possibilities of collaboration between India and the EU in areas like green hydrogen.

While she publicly at least didn't ask India to review its position on Russia, addressing the Raisina Dialogue later, where she was the chief guest, von der Leyen urged all members of the international community to support EU's efforts for lasting peace in the form of sanctions.

Like the US and others in the West, von der Leyen sought to play on India's fears of a Russia-China axis as she spoke about the 2 countries forging a seemingly unrestrained pact.

"They have declared that the friendship between them has ‘no limits'; that there are ‘no forbidden areas of cooperation'; this was in February this year. And then, the invasion of Ukraine followed. What can we expect from the ‘new international relations' that both have called for," she said.

Von der Leyen went on to say that what happens in Ukraine will have an impact on the Indo-Pacific region.

"It already has. Countries battered by two years of Covid-19 pandemic must deal now with rising prices for grain, energy and fertilisers as a direct result of Putin's war of choice. Thus, the outcome of the war will not only determine the future of Europe but also deeply affect the Indo-Pacific region and the rest of the world. For the Indo-Pacific region, it is as important as for Europe that borders are respected and that spheres of influence are rejected. We want a positive vision for a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region," she said.

While concerns remain about the possibility of Ukraine shifting the focus away from the Indo-Pacific, von der Leyen said EU's vision is that the Indo-Pacific region remains free and open, and becomes more interconnected, prosperous, secure and resilient with an open and rules-based security architecture that serves all interests. "To this end, we will deepen our engagement with our partners in the region, including ASEAN," she said.


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