NEW DELHI: Russian president Vladimir Putin will be waving a red rag in front of the West by including the head of the Republic of Crimea as part of his extended delegation during his official visit to New Delhi.
Sergey Valeryevich Aksyonov, who has been Crimea’s Prime Minister since the territory declared independence following the Ukranian revolution in February, will be for the first time travelling abroad as part of a delegation of the Russian President.
Both Indian and Russian officials emphasised that Aksyonov wouldn’t be part of the delegation which would hold bilateral talks at Hyderabad House on Thursday afternoon. Instead, Askyonov will have his own “simple, separate programme”, which includes talks with “business partners and the signing of a memorandum of understanding”.
By bringing along Aksyonov, Putin wants to demonstrate that Russia still has on its side friendly nations where it can bring the Crimean leader, a persona non grata for the West. Aksyonov is on the list of individuals sanctioned by the EU and the US, but India had said that it couldn’t back any such “unilateral” sanctions regime.
Earlier, in his first interview after becoming the PM, Modi had answered a question on India’s position on the Crimea question with a telling allegory.
“There is a saying in India that the person who should throw a stone first is the person who has not committed any sins. In the world right now, a lot of people want to give advice. But look within them, and they too have sinned in some way. Ultimately, India’s viewpoint is that efforts need to be made to sit together and talk, and to resolve problems in an ongoing process,” he said.