Allowing Russia’s impunity in attacking Ukraine sends a message to potential aggressors: Blinken

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New Delhi: Allowing Russia to wage war against Ukraine with impunity would be a message to “would be aggressors” everywhere that they may be able to get away with it too, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday in presence of his counterparts from India, Japan and Australia.

Blinken, speaking at the Raisina Dialogue, also said the principles driving the international system are being challenged and even countries beyond Europe are working to support Ukraine knowing the severity of the challenge and its possible implications in the future.

“If we allow with impunity Russia to do what it’s doing in Ukraine, then that’s a message to would be aggressors everywhere that they may be able to get away with it too,” he said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australia’s Penny Wong were also part of the session.

“The principles that underlie the entire international system that are necessary for trying to keep peace, the stability that grew out of two world wars are being challenged, being aggressed along with Ukraine,” he said.

“And part of the reason that countries way beyond Europe are also so focused on this and are working to support Ukraine and deal with the challenge is because they know it could have an effect here,” Blinken said.

Blinken’s comments came a day after he briefly met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Delhi in their first face-to-face encounter since the start of the war in Ukraine in February last year.

When asked whether Quad is an interim consultative group for the US even as the real action unfolds with its old allies and in the old world, Blinken said the grouping is an important platform to address various challenges facing the Indo-Pacific.

The Quad comprises India, the US, Japan and Australia.

“I think the very fact not only of our presence here today but our presence and engagement day-in, day-out, including through the Quad and the work that we’re doing not only during the meetings that we have but in between, is powerful evidence of the fact that, as you might say, we can run and chew gum at the same time,” he said.

“And for us the future is so much in the Indo-Pacific. Our engagement throughout the region, both through the Quad and in other ways, is as comprehensive and as deep as any time I can remember,” he said. Blinken said the four countries are very well-placed to increase in a variety of ways their collaboration on emerging technology and on innovation, and “that’s something that we’ll also do through the Quad.” The Japanese foreign minister said Quad as a whole will be coordinating all key efforts of the four countries so that we can do much better than just “one plus one plus one plus one is four”.

“But the one plus one plus one plus one could be six, seven or eight by coordinating and listening.” Hayashi said Quad is a platform for practical cooperation and it is not trying to exclude anybody.

“No, I don’t think — look, we are not apologetic,” said Jaishankar. The external affairs minister was asked to respond to the common refrain from the Quad countries that “this is not against anyone, we are not a security grouping, we are not a military grouping”. “So we do stand for something. What I would not like to be defined as is standing against something or somebody, because that diminishes me. That makes it out as though some other people are the centre of the world and I’m only there to be for them or against them,” he said.

China has been suspicious about the Quad and feels that the grouping is aimed at containing it.

Jaishankar said the Quad is offering more choices. “We do collectively offer something different,” he said.

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( With inputs from www.siasat.com )

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