PC : Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lauded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping as “responsible leaders” who are capable of solving the ongoing border dispute on their own.

“Yes, I do know that there are some issues related to India-China relations but there are always a lot of issues between neighbouring countries. I know the attitude of both the prime minister of India and also the president of China”, the Russian president said during a virtual press conference.

Putin was attending the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday. The remarks on the ongoing Ladakh border standoff between India and China were made in response to a question from Indian news agency the Press Trust of India (PTI).

“They (Modi and Xi) are very responsible people and they earnestly treat one another with utmost respect, and I believe that they will always arrive at a solution to any issue that they might face”, he stated.

“But it is important that no other extra-regional power is interfering with that”, the Russian president cautioned.

Last year, then-US President Donald Trump offered on two separate occasions to mediate in the “raging” India-China border standoff.

“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute”, the the former US president said last May.

The offer at the time was gently rejected by New Delhi. “We are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve it”, India’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

Responding to Trump’s comment, China said that it didn’t need any “third party” intervention in the border standoff.

“We are capable of properly resolving the issues between us through dialogue and consultation”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.

However, that didn’t stop Trump from reiterating his mediation offer in September 2020. “I know that China now, and India, are having difficulty, and very, very substantial difficulty. And, hopefully, they will be able to work that out. If we can help, we would love to help”, he said during an interaction with reporters at the White House.

While both India and China categorically refused to involve the US in their dispute, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Subramaniam Jaishankar met in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in September last year. The meeting between the two ministers was the first high-level, in-person discussion between India and China since the eruption of the border standoff in May last year.

Putin on Quad

During the interaction with the Indian news agency, President Putin also weighed in on the Quad grouping, an informal alliance comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the US.

The Russian president declined to comment on the extent to which a country should participate in an initiative and to what extent they should build relations with other states. He, however, added that “no partnership should be aimed at making friends against anyone”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last year described the Quad as a “devious” American policy that sought to engage India in “anti-China games”.

“India is currently an object of the Western countries’ persistent, aggressive and devious policy as they are trying to engage it in anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies, the so-called Quad, while at the same time the West is attempting to undermine our close partnership and privileged relations with India”, Lavrov said at the Valdai International Discussion Club, an event organised by Moscow-based think tank the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).

Lavrov reiterated his criticism of the Quad grouping during his two-day visit to India in April this year, stating that both New Delhi and Moscow believed that an “Asian NATO-like alliance could be counter-productive“.

China has also often accused the Quad grouping of being a “US-led” initiative to curb the rising influence of Beijing in the Asia-Pacific region.