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Russian, US, UK officials to arrive in New Delhi for talks amid Ukraine conflict

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US deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh, the man behind shaping American sanctions against Russia, is expected to travel to New Delhi this week for meetings with Indian interlocutors. Incidentally, his visit has been timed around the visit by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to India.

The Indian-American official is the deputy national security advisor for international economics and deputy director of the US National Economic Council. He has played an instrumental role in helping design the punitive sanctions targeting President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle and Russian entities following the invasion of Ukraine.

People familiar with the matter said on Tuesday that Singh is expected to be in the Indian capital for meetings on March 31. There was however no official announcement from the Indian or American side regarding the visit.

The visit is seen as part of Washington’s efforts to push India into changing its position on the Ukraine crisis. Singh is expected to interact with top officials of India’s National Security Council.

Lavrov, on the other hand, is expected to arrive in India on March 31 after a two-day visit to China.  In China, he will hold bilateral talks and participate in a meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries. Lavrov is expected to hold talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on April 1, but again neither India nor Russia has officially announced the visit.

The Russian side is keen to focus on overcoming the fallout of US sanctions on defence and economic deals with India, including switching to a rupee-rouble payment system.

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss is also visiting the Indian capital on March 31 and the Ukraine issue is expected to figure prominently during the exchange. Truss is supposedly holding talks with Jaishankar, defence minister Rajnath Singh and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, according to sources.

The German foreign and security policy adviser to the federal chancellor, Jens Plotner, too is visiting New Delhi this week for consultations with Indian officials on the Ukraine crisis.

Differences between the US and India on the Ukraine crisis spilled out into the open last week, when President Joe Biden said the world had mounted a “united front” across Europe and the Pacific on the Russian aggression against Ukraine, with the “possible exception of India”.

India has refrained from publicly criticising the Russian offensive and abstained on all Ukraine-related votes at UN bodies. It has continued its economic engagement with Russia, including massive purchases of oil offered at discounted rates.

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