Virtual meeting of RIC foreign ministers was held amid rising tensions in the disputed Ladakh region between India and China. Originally planned for March 2020 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was conducted as Russia’s initiative to mark the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II, which resulted in the formation of the UN. The grouping has a high dependence on Russia’s close diplomatic ties with both India and China. While the Russian side maintained that it would not mediate between India and China, it also reiterated its support to India’s bid for permanent membership in the UNSC.
Since conducting its second nuclear tests in 1998, India had adhered to a self-imposed commitment to “No First Use” of nuclear weapons on another country. However, on August 16th, 2019, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had hinted that in future India’s “no first use” policy “depends on circumstances”. Following this episode, the Defence Minister had effectively reduced the already bleak chances of India becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, in the current situation, it matters very little for India as it already has the necessary benefits it needs to expand and operate its nuclear programme.
The US President Donald Trump, dubbing the current G7 setup as outdated, had recently called for the expansion of the grouping into a G10 or G11 with the inclusion of India, Australia, Russia and South Korea. Apart from the US, the UK too had advocated for the expansion by pitching for the ‘D10’, a grouping of 10 democratic countries comprising of G7 and India among others to create an alternative source for 5G technology and equipment and curb reliance on China. These proposals come at a time when the major economies are increasingly becoming less influential due to their lack of unity and protectionist ideologies.