Ahead of a crucial 2+2 meeting between India and the US on Monday, in a departure from the norm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden will hold a virtual meeting. They will discuss the entire gamut of the relationship, developments in the Indo-Pacific as well as the crisis in Ukraine. Defense minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar landed in Washington to participate in the 2+2 dialogue with their counterparts, secretary of defense Lloyd J Austin and secretary of state Antony J Blinken. This is the first dialogue under the format since the Biden administration took office and the fourth 2+2 dialogue since the inception of the format. The virtual meeting and the dialogue come in the backdrop of differences between the American and Indian positions on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. India has emphasized the need for dialogue and diplomacy, an end to the cessation of hostilities and violence, and spoken up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. India has refrained from condemning Russian aggression.
The US has led the international coalition against Russia and offered military support to Ukraine.
The US has led the international coalition against Russia and offered military support to Ukraine and nudged India to take a stronger position against the Russian invasion and reduce its energy, defense, and economic engagement with Russia. Monday’s conversations will reflect the ability of both sides to manage the differences, place them within the wider context of deepening ties, and build on convergences in a range of areas. It includes health, defense, space, cyber, higher education, climate, and emerging technologies, among other issues. But even as the two governments seek to focus on the wider relationship, Ukraine will remain a key focus area. The White House’s statement on the virtual summit said: “President Biden will continue India’s close consultations on the consequences of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and mitigating its destabilizing impact on global food supply and commodity markets.