It is essential that we manage such profound changes keeping in mind the need to balance change and stability, Nirmala Sitharaman said

NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday suggested that the West and Russia should make efforts to enhance mutual confidence to prevent deterioration of ties even as it hailed Moscow's regaining of influence in global strategic affairs.

"A key facet of the prevailing international situation is the continued and rising unpredictability in relations between major powers. This is both unprecedented and a matter of concern," Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while addressing Moscow Conference on International Security on Wednesday. She is on a 3-day visit to Moscow that included holding bilateral talks with Russia.

She hailed ties between India and Russia describing Moscow as India's global partner and key partner for the Eurasian region. "Effective cooperation between India and Russia will be a key factor in enhancing regional and global security in future."

"It is appropriate that we are discussing this subject in Moscow. Russia has re-established its role and influence in global strategic and defence matters," pointed out the Indian Defence Minister in reference to Moscow's increasing role in global affairs across regions.

"The current deterioration of ties between Russia and the West is a reflection of this trend. We also see the manifestation of this instability at the manner in which major powers as well as other influential actors have sought to address a range of regional issues and conflicts," she rued while indirectly pointing to conflicts in West Asia and Afghanistan.

At a fundamental level, such divergent approaches indicate wider diffusion of power in the international system, in particular the rise of Asia. This is a positive development in which India also seeks to play its due role, noted Sitharaman on her maiden visit to Moscow as Defence Minister.

"However, it is essential that we manage such profound changes keeping in mind the need to balance change and stability."

"I welcome the statements by Defence Minister Shoigu and other Russian leaders in the opening session stressing Russia’s intent to explore all possible avenues for dialogue and a constructive approach to resolving differences...Specific and concrete efforts must be made to work towards enhancing mutual confidence. We need to avoid perspectives that seek to enhance narrow gains while undermining the larger good," the Minister suggested in an oblique reference to recent developments that led to deterioration of ties.

"For us in India, Russia has been and remains a long-standing friend and partner with whom we share a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership. India and Russia have just concluded a year of commemorative events to mark the 70th Anniversary of diplomatic relations. Over these seven decades, India and Russia have built a relationship of mutual trust and confidence in a range of areas, especially defence. We therefore welcome Russia’s growing global engagement and remain keen to continue consultations and coordination with Russia on international and regional issues. For India, cooperation with Russia is vital in ensuring stability and security in our shared Eurasian neighbourhood, especially in addressing the menace of terrorism. We also seek a cooperative relationship with Russia for broad based and mutually beneficial economic growth and development in the region."

In an oblique criticism of US policies, the Minister said, "In the economic sphere, we need to guard against protectionism. Barriers to movement of skilled labour and the closing of borders are unlikely to address the issues involved."

Referring indirectly to Pak sponsored terror, the Minister said, "We should also resolutely resist attempts by some states to retain influence through terrorist proxies. We in India are well aware of such nefarious designs. Efforts by states to continue training, funding or ideological support to terrorist groups for their narrow objectives should be repulsed effectively, using forceful methods where necessary."

Referring indirectly to Chinese designs in seas, she said, "The resurgence of territorial disputes in the maritime domain is another concern. Maritime territorial disputes are extremely complex. We need to ensure that such issues are managed effectively and solely through peaceful means...e rights of freedom of navigation and over-flight as well as unimpeded commerce should be ensured. For India, this is vital to sustain its own economic engagement with the Indo-Pacific region for mutual benefit."