Russia’s bilateral dialogue with European countries continued, with the President of Austria (which currently chairs the Council of EU) and the Prime Minister of Italy (currently OSCE chair) visiting Russia. The progressive strengthening of their bilateral economic engagements was noted. Austria supports the trans-Baltic sea Nordstream 2 pipeline; Russia was also pleased that Austria supported (as President Putin announced) extension of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, including in areas under the control of the Syrian government – the US has pressured other Western countries to oppose this. Italy has also expressed the hope of dialogue leading to early lifting of sanctions against Russia.

Multilaterally, the Russia-Germany-France-Turkey summit in Istanbul (October 27) also showed some Russian success in getting France and Germany to share some of its perspectives on the Syrian political process (next section).

Meanwhile, both President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke at length in media interactions about how myopic US actions were driving Europe to seek political and economic independence of action vis a vis the US. FM Lavrov said President Macron’s ideas for EU reform, including the concept of a “multi-speed” Europe and independence of action in defence and security, are “very interesting” and “overdue”, adding that Russia is in favour of “a powerful and independent European Union” – the independence being of course from the US. President Putin was more forthright in describing as “certainly right” President Macron’s views on “the need to enhance the economic sovereignty of the European Union and reduce its dependence on the United States”, opining that it was an obvious consequence of the US effort “to gain competitive advantages in business by using political instruments”. He said the US was committing a huge strategic mistake by its coercive sanctions, which are leading countries to seek dollar-free settlement arrangements, thus undermining the position of the dollar as the sole global reserve currency. He attributed it to the over-confidence of an empire, unwisely over-confident of its own strength.

 

October 30, 2018

About the Author

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.