NEW DELHI: Even as China continues to stall India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership , Russia has come out strongly in support of India saying that India’s application cannot be “interlinked” with that of Pakistan and that Moscow is discussing the issue with Beijing at different levels. China has favoured a criteria-based approach for expansion of the 48-member group, which controls international nuclear commerce, instead of one based on merit, in what India sees an attempt to draw a false equivalence between India’s case and Pakistan’s.
The issue again came up for discussion on Wednesday as Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov met foreign secretary S Jaishankar. “We recognise that at the moment there is no unanimity on Pakistan’s application and that the same cannot be interlinked with India’s,” said Ryabkov, after his meeting with Jaishankar.
This is probably the first time that a top Russian diplomat has publicly drawn attention to the futility of juxtaposing the 2 cases. “We know about the difficulties involved but unlike some other countries, who only speak, we are making practical efforts…we are discussing it with China at different levels,” he added. Earlier this year, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had said that India had approached Russia to convince China to drop its opposition to India’s membership.
On the issue of North Korea, which too was discussed between the two countries, Ryabkov reiterated Russia’s position that there was no alternative to a political “track” for resolving the issues and that all parties needed to show restraint. “We don’t believe there is place for more sanctions on North Korea,” said Ryabkov, adding that there were commonalities in the position taken by both Russia and India. As Swaraj said recently, India believes that some channels of communication with Pyongyang should remain open.