CALLING RUSSIA’S attack on Ukraine a “blatant violation of international law”, visiting German Security and Foreign Policy Advisor Jens Plötner on Wednesday warned about the consequences on the global order if such behaviour goes “unchecked”.
Speaking to a select group of journalists, Plötner, who met his counterpart, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, on Wednesday, said: “What are the lessons that countries — big and small — draw from this war. We don’t want the big ones to be encouraged. Because we don’t want smaller countries to fear that countries bigger in size can go back in history and geography, and say that the smaller country has no right to exist.”
While the reference was to Russia and Ukraine, Plötner, when pressed, said he was referring to China as well. “My not naming countries is deliberate,” he said. “If we start looking back in history, and then choosing to define the geography of our country, I think we’re in for quite a period of turmoil internationally, if countries decide to turn back the clock. And that is why I think beyond the case of Ukraine, this is so important,” he said.
Saying that India and Germany have the “same genes”, Plötner, who also met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said he was talking to Indian interlocutors to “analyse the consequences of this war” and try and and gain “common understanding”. How this war will end is an “open-ended question”, he said.
During the talks today, Indian government sources said the two sides reaffirmed the strength and resilience of their strategic partnership and the immense potential that it holds for mutual benefit. They agreed that the forthcoming 6th Inter-Governmental Consultations would provide an opportunity for the leadership on both sides to engage and intensify the bilateral partnership.
“NSA and his German counterpart also discussed recent developments in their respective regions. NSA emphasised India’s consistent approach for the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law and our commitment to the UN Charter and the principles of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States,” sources said, adding that both the sides agreed to remain engaged on issues of mutual interest.
Plötner made it clear that he was not in Delhi to “lecture or demand”, and that “won’t be the right thing to do”. Asked if he had a message to be delivered to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is set to begin a two-day visit to India on Thursday, he said: “That would be preposterous.”
But, he said, “everybody has a geography and geopolitical setting”, and India is “in a complicated neighbourhood”, where “you have your challenges”. “We might have different approaches, but we hope to arrive at the same conclusions,” he said.
On the humanitarian situation arising from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he said, “if you are in Berlin, you can see thousands of Ukrainian refugees on the streets and train stations, many cars with Ukrainian numberplates, kids in schools from Ukraine. I have an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old children, and they tell me about the new Ukrainian children in their classes,” he said.
Stressing that Germany has a long history of dependence on Moscow for energy needs, he said, “We have set up ambitious targets of reducing our dependence on Russia for coal and oil.” But, for reducing dependence on Russia for natural gas, he said, the transition will take time. “But we are on a steady and ambitious course,” he said, underlining that Germany has suspended the Nord Stream II gas project.
On the question of India buying oil from Russia at discounted rates, he said Germany would like friendly countries to not act to the contrary, when most are trying to abide by the sanctions. “We are ready to incur substantial amount of costs. It doesn’t make sense for us to hurt ourselves to hurt Russian economy,” he said.
Plötner’s visit comes at a time when several other high-level foreign dignitaries are visiting India for consultations on ongoing bilateral, regional and multilateral issues.