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Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar Displays an Independent India at Munich Security Conference

At the Munich Security Conference yesterday, India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made some notable interventions.

First, following one panel, as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was descending from the stage, and Jaishankar was approaching the stage, Wang Yi made eye contact with Jaishankar and made his way to Jaishankar to shake his hand. According to the video, they had a quite brief, but very animated conversation, marking their first contact in several months.

Next, Jaishankar was placed on the same panel as U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf, acting as moderator, proceeded to ask Jaishankar why is India buying Russian oil and questions of that sort, to pressure him, insinuating that Jaishankar should be aligned with the West. In that general setting, the Indian Foreign Minister gave a brief history of the BRICS, to give context to India’s foreign policy, and emphasized that when the BRICS got started, Western dominance was very strong. Now, we have “got almost 30 countries who were willing to join BRICS. Clearly, 30 countries saw value in it, there must be something good with that.”

When pressed on India’s continued purchase of Russian oil, Jaishankar began by saying that “there are times when you live in different places, different levels of development,” and then teasingly added that, instead of Blinken and Baerbock being angry at him, they should admire him for making the choices he makes.