Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit India for two days, beginning tomorrow, the government announced in a press release. This is Moscow’s highest-level visit to Delhi since Russia sent troops into Ukraine

The Indian government said, “Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, H.E. Mr Sergey Lavrov will pay an official visit to New Delhi on 31 March -1 April 2022”. 

His visit comes after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the nation’s capital last week. With China and India facing mounting pressure from the West, here’s what to expect from Russia-India talks. 

The oil of it all 

The war in Ukraine has led to a rise in gas and oil prices. In order to avoid this extra cost, India has been considering buying crude oil from Russia. It has also given its blessing to local refineries to obtain crude oil from Moscow. 

Also Read | Ukraine sceptical of Russian promise to scale down military operations

Some in the US believe that India should be sanctioned for considering this, at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops into Ukraine. 

Putin has also recently started asking that countries pay Russia in rubles to acquire oil and gas, in a bid to boost the nation’s economy which has been severely hit by sanctions

Both the acquisition of oil and the mode of payment could be on the table for discussion. 

Arms and the nations 

India depends on Moscow largely for its weapons and defence systems. However, in recent times, India has faced pressure about acquiring arms from Putin at a time his troops remain in Ukraine. 

Also Read | Rahul Gandhi slams PM Narendra Modi over rise in fuel prices

The US has also expressed confidence that with the newfound relation between Washington and Delhi, India will begin relying on the Joe Biden government more for its weapons needs. 

Lavrov’s talks could include ways of keeping India in the fold since the two nations have shared a close relationship for a long time. 

Walk the middle path 

India has thus far withstood mounting global pressure to vote against Russia at the United Nations. The nation has abstained in all instances, and when an Indian at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) voted against Russia, India was quick to distance itself from the individual’s actions, noting he was voting in a personal capacity. 

Also Read | Russia-Ukraine conflict: PM Modi bats for greater regional cooperation via BIMSTEC

Russia has praised India’s neutrality at the UN, previously, and noted the nation was taking a responsible approach to the ongoing situation. 

Lavrov’s visit could include a moment of Russian appreciation for Indian diplomacy. 

Escape from Ukraine, and Indian casualties 

Lavrov, when he arrives in India could address the evacuation process, which involved India coordinating with Russia and Ukraine. Talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian counterpart Putin moved things along, and now Indians in Ukraine are safely back home. 

However, the death of the Karanataka medical student, Naveen Shekarappa, due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, will hang heavy during Delhi’s talks with Moscow. 

Give peace a chance 

India has long been urging both sides to resort to diplomacy and find a peaceful solution to the situation, calling on a cessation of violence. 

Also Read | US Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh to visit India ahead of 2+2 talks

With a chance to address Russia’s Foreign Minister, Delhi would likely focus on encouraging more peace talks between Russia and Ukraine

Lavrov’s visit comes at a time when Russia faces sanctions and has lost the most favoured nation status in many trade relationships with nations.