Russia backs India’s stance at SCO summit

Russia on Thursday backed India’s assertion that Pakistan shouldn’t raise bilateral matters at platforms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), saying these groupings are focused on multilateral cooperation to tackle regional challenges.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took an indirect swipe at Pakistan at SCO’s virtual summit on Tuesday, saying it is unfortunate that repeated attempts are being made to violate the grouping’s charter by raising bilateral issues.

Asked about this matter during an online news briefing on Thursday, Russia’s deputy chief of mission Roman Babushkin said SCO’s charter does not allow the inclusion of bilateral issues. Russia, the current chair of SCO, made it clear to all member states that such issues should be avoided. The main objective of SCO is dealing with regional challenges and threats and promoting economic, financial and humanitarian partnership among member states in order to maintain the momentum of ongoing collaboration, he said.

“We should not [divert] our attention to bilateral disputes, we don’t interfere in these bilateral disputes,” Babushkin said, adding that Russia’s position on India-Pakistan disputes remains “consistent and unchanged”.

India has reacted sharply to Pakistan’s repeated efforts, often with support from its traditional ally China, to raise the Kashmir issue at multilateral bodies such as SCO and the UN Security Council , efforts that intensified after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was scrapped in August last year.

In September, India walked out of a virtual meeting of national security advisers of SCO after the Pakistani representative projected a map that inaccurately depicted the borders of the two countries. Russia, which chaired that meeting, subsequently informed India that the Pakistani representative went ahead with the action despite being asked not to do so.

Babushkin said all member states of SCO are “doing their best to avoid bringing tensions into the agenda of this organisation”. He added, “The value of this organisation is that it provides a proper platform for expanded cooperation and it provides common ground for issues for practical cooperation.”

‘Rise in LAC tensions will hurt regional stability’

Russia on Thursday said any further escalation of tensions between India and China at Line of Actual Control could impact regional stability across Eurasia and reiterated the need to find a negotiated settlement.

“It is feared that amid common turbulence and unpredictability, escalation between India and China would further affect regional instability in our common home Eurasia, while escalation as we are witnessing can be misused by other players in their geopolitical purposes,” Babushkin told reporters.

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