Name? Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
Westphalian identity? Indian
Why is he in the news? The Indian Foreign Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, is on his way to Moscow for India’s first official state visit with Russian dignitaries since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He will be in Moscow for two days, and is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov to discuss “bilateral relations and the international agenda”. This meeting comes ahead of the G20 summit in Bali.
Why do we care? Since the start of the war, India has played a balancing act between the West and Russia in the conflict in Ukraine. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine; but S Jaishankar and his colleagues have worked behind the scenes to pressure Russia when they need to, and pressure the West as well. The foreign minister is responsible for orchestrating this stance on the international stage.
Why should you care? The role of Jaishankar, like that of Erdoğan, could be instrumental in advancing diplomatic communication between Russia and the West, and possibly in shaping the geopolitical dynamics of the post-war international order. With its so far neutral stance, India is a candidate for a mediating role in the conflict. You should care 7/10.
Who else cares? German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on the UN to help resolve the Pakistani-Indian conflict in Kashmir earlier this month during a Pakistani visit to Germany. This was a surprisingly upfront stance on the conflict, which favoured Pakistan, as India strongly opposes any outside involvement in Kashmir – a sentiment so far honoured by the West. Baerbock’s remarks may push Jaishankar and India further away from the West.
Any further comments? Russia is a key arms and energy supplier to India, which is one of the reasons why it is so delicate for India to balance military relations with Russia against economic relations with the West.