As the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in New Delhi on 5 December to participate in 2+2 dialogue with the Indian foreign and defence minister, here we find out what such dialogues are about.
This format of dialogue between India and Russia is a new format of talks, which would cover political and defence issues where both countries have a stake or mutual interest.
According to the spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Minister Arindam Bagchi, the 2+2 format of bilateral talks is “expected to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries.” The dialogue happens as the Russian President Vladimir Putin visits India and will hold the 21st India-Russia summit level talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It is expected that in both the platforms the sides are expected to discuss the latest situation in Afghanistan and the threat of extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.
In the 2+2 dialogue, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will meet Lavrov and Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.
The Russian President’s visit and his senior ministers’ visit has generated a lot of interest among strategic experts and neighbouring countries and the US. The sides are expected to sign an agreement to boost cooperation in key areas such as defence, trade and technology. Prime Minister Modi and President Putin had earlier met in 2019 on the sidelines of the BRIC summit.
India now has opted to hold 2+2 format of talks with Russia, US, Japan and Australia. The US, Japan and Australia along with India are part of QUAD grouping.
While with Russia, India is holding first such dialogue, early this year, the same format was used for talks with Australia. India has been using this format for talks with the US and Japan for the past two-three years.
In 2018, India’s then External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister held talks with their American counterparts. This format allows better cooperation in security, intelligence and defence. This format allows better synergy between diplomatic and security issues.
Since 2018, India and the US have hosted three rounds of such dialogue, which helped in enhancing defence cooperation between the two countries.
The reason why this has emerged as a preferred way of talks as this allows participation of top defence officials where they can prioritise defence over other issues.
India and Japan had the first 2+2 talks in November 2019. The two sides could focus on maritime security and freedom of movement.
India and Russia 2+2 talks highlights that the two sides will continue to work to cooperate in the field of defence, irrespective of concerns expressed by other countries.
Same format for India’s key dialogue partners sends a message that India treats these states on the same level. It will also send a message that India does not belong to any “camp.”