While Australian PM Scott Morrison called for holding Russia to account for its Ukraine offensive in the virtual summit with PM Narendra Modi, Australia also expressed understanding of India’s position on Ukraine, as foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said after the meeting.
However, even as Modi and Morrison expressed serious concern over the conflict and the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, they agreed that that the conflict in Europe should not divert the Quad countries’ focus from the Indo-Pacific with Morrison underlining the need to ensure what is happening in Ukraine never occurs in the Indo-Pacific.
Modi briefed his counterpart about the situation at LAC and reiterated there cannot be normalisation of ties with China till peace and tranquillity along the border is restored. Morrison also spoke against Chinese activities in South China Sea. Shringla said a significant outcome of the summit was to institutionalise an annual bilateral summit mechanism. India had annual summits only with Russia and Japan till now.
While the 2 countries signed several agreements including one for co-investment in Australian critical mineral projects, an area Australia is looking to compete with China in, a joint statement by the 2 sides was still awaited till late in the night. Australia is looking to increase its investments in India by Rs 1500 crore with the fresh agreements.
While Modi didn’t mention Ukraine in his opening remarks, Morrison brought up Russia’s “unlawful invasion’’ saying the tragic loss of life underlies the importance of holding Russia to account. “But cooperation between like-minded liberal democracies is key to an open and inclusive and resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific, and I welcome your leadership within the Quad to keeping us focused on those important issues,’’ he said. While Japan had publicly said after the summit with India on Saturday that PM Fumio Kishida asked Modi to take up with President Vladimir Putin the need to main a “free and open international order’’, there was no such pronouncement by the Australians after the summit.