India is an important voice in efforts to find a mediated solution to the Ukraine conflict though there is “an acute shortage of Russian willingness” to end the war, Germany’s top security official said on Monday after meetings with interlocutors in New Delhi.
Jens Plötner, foreign and security policy advisor to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, told reporters that India’s voice is important because it is listened to by Russia. However, Russia has not indicated withdrawing its invading troops from Ukraine and engaging in meaningful negotiations, he said.
Plötner also said after his meetings with National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and external affairs minister (EAM) S Jaishankar that Germany views the nearly three-year-border standoff between China and India with concern and believes dialogue is needed to resolve the situation. Plötner visited New Delhi to review bilateral cooperation and to prepare the grounds for a visit by Scholz later this month.
India naturally comes into consideration in the context of a complicated conflict such as the one in Ukraine, he said in response to a question about New Delhi’s role as a mediator. “I think at the moment we do not have a shortage of mediators but we have an acute shortage of Russian willingness to stop this war and get out of its neighbouring country,” he said.
Russia continues its “deadly onslaught” against Ukraine and has shown no willingness to engage in meaningful negotiations, Plötner said. “The Indian angle is very important, the voice of New Delhi is one which is heard very, very clearly and which is listened to in Moscow and that makes it all the more important,” he added.
Responding to another query on the India-China standoff that began in May 2020, Plötner said: “Obviously we see with concern the border tensions…and think that this is not an area where arms should speak, but where dialogue is needed and I see this willingness on the Indian side to engage.”
Germany has a two-pronged approach towards China– competition and systemic rivalry in the economic field with the intent of enhancing a level playing field, and partnership to tackle global challenges such as climate change, he said. As China aspires to play a bigger role on the global scene, it must take on greater responsibility to uphold the rules of the world order, he added.
Plötner said Germany and India are having to contend with a “very messy international situation full of challenges” because of Russia’s war against Ukraine. This is a “European war…with global repercussions” since it has led to food shortages and skyrocketing energy prices and inflation, he said.
Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), violated the UN Charter by invading a smaller country “simply because it can and because it is stronger,” Plötner said, adding “That cannot go unchecked because otherwise, I think the world will become a jungle [forest] if not the rule of law but the rule of the strongest would prevail.”
“In India, we feel we have a partner who, as much as we, believes in the rules-based international order, is a strong proponent of a multilateral system…,” he added.
India has so far refrained from publicly criticising the Russian invasion, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi told President Vladimir Putin during a meeting last year that “today’s era is not of war.”
PM Modi also highlighted the war’s impact on vulnerable developing countries.
Besides taking stock of bilateral ties, Plötner’s discussions in New Delhi focused on new fields of cooperation, including renewable energy, green hydrogen, and the adoption of green technologies by industries in both countries as part of a collaboration to counter climate change.
The two sides also discussed legal migration to meet Germany’s needs for workers. Germany has had “extremely positive experiences” with Indian workers and talks focused on fostering cooperation in this area. Germany also welcomes Indian students and authorities are working to reduce visa wait times for them, he added.