India along with six other nations participated in a meet held in Moscow on 15 February 2017. The conference was conducted to discuss Afghanistan’s future.
In a similar conference held two months earlier, Russia had invited only China and Pakistan, a move that was objected by both India and Afghanistan. India especially objected its exclusion from the previous conference on Afghanistan, as it has always believed in a close and constructive cooperation for peace and stability in the region.
Following it, Moscow agreed to expand its circle and hold a six-nation conference including Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iran. The one-day conclave was led by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov. While Gopal Baglay represented India at the meet, Pakistan was represented by Mansoor Ali Khan.
• India has always shared a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship with Russia and before that with the Soviet Union.
• However, over the past few months, both the nations have developed differences on the moves in Afghanistan.
• India was also increasingly uncomfortable with Russia’s proposals to Pakistan on defence issues.
• Russia also did not join US, UK and France in passing a resolution to list Pakistan-based JeM leader Masood Azhar as a terrorist. The resolution was then blocked by China.
• Apart from this, Russia has been seen harbouring a softer approach towards Taliban, in an effort to counter the spread of Islamic State in Afghanistan.
• Both Russia and China have also been in close coordination to demand delisting of senior Taliban leaders who were designated as terrorists by the UN sanctions committee.