European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned on Monday that the Ukrainian conflict will have an impact on the Indo-Pacific region, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that dialogue and diplomacy are the only way to achieve peace in Europe.
Von der Leyen further indicated that a “seemingly absolute pact” forged by Russia and China will have ramifications for Europe and Asia. She noted that this friendship “without limits” and without “prohibited areas of cooperation” was finalized in February, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking to the Raisina Dialogue, the Foreign Office’s flagship conference on geopolitics, Von der Leyen said the fallout from the Ukraine crisis was already being felt in the Indo-Pacific.
“What happens in Ukraine will have an impact on the Indo-Pacific region. It’s already the case. Countries battered by two years of the Covid-19 pandemic now face rising grain, energy and fertilizer prices as a direct result of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war of choice.
“Thus, the outcome of the war will not only determine the future of Europe, but will also profoundly affect the Indo-Pacific region and the rest of the world,” she said, adding that it was equally important to the Indo-Pacific and Europe that “boundaries are respected and spheres of influence are rejected”.
In a meeting held earlier in the day, Modi and Von der Leyen expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and called for an immediate end to the violence. Modi “stressed the importance of giving peace a chance and the need to return to dialogue and diplomacy as the only way to achieve peace,” according to a foreign ministry statement.
Interview: Ursula von der Leyen says Europe faces unprovoked Russian attack on Ukraine
The two leaders noted growing policy convergence on the Indo-Pacific and exchanged views on regional and global issues such as the situation in Afghanistan and Myanmar and cooperation at the WTO and G20.
During the Raisina Dialogue, Von der Leyen urged the international community to support Europe’s efforts for a lasting peace in Ukraine, including sanctions designed to be maintained over a longer period to provide leverage to achieve a diplomatic solution.
“In Europe, we view Russia’s aggression as a direct threat to our security. We will ensure that unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine is a strategic failure,” she told an audience including Modi, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, Foreign Ministers from over a dozen countries and ambassadors.
“That’s why we are doing everything we can to help Ukraine fight for its freedom. That is why we immediately imposed massive, severe and effective sanctions,” she added.
India refrained from publicly censuring the Russian invasion of Ukraine but called for respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. Indian and Russian officials have discussed alternative payment mechanisms to ensure key defense and other transactions are not disrupted by Western sanctions.
Von der Leyen said the world community stands at a defining moment and that “the response to Russia’s aggression today will decide the future of the international system and the global economy.” This included the question of whether the right of the strongest or the rule of law will prevail, she said.
The European Union will continue to encourage China to play its role in a peaceful Indo-Pacific region, she said, adding that the relationship between the 27-member bloc and Beijing is “both strategically important and difficult”.
China is a “negotiating partner, economic competitor and systemic rival”, and the EU will continue its multifaceted engagement, cooperate to address common challenges and safeguard its core interests, Von der Leyen said.
Without naming China or its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Von der Leyen said the need for massive economic investments had led to some countries being “forced into accepting unsustainable offers” and facing a situation “where they don’t fully control their own infrastructure.” , whether seaports or airports, bridges or railways”.
Vivek Mishra, a member of the Strategic Studies Program at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), said Von der Leyen’s speech “depicts a deliberate balance straddling concerns about the ongoing war in Europe and possible threats to rules-based order in Indochina”. Pacific.” He added, “His encouragement of China to play by the rules clearly stood out.”
It also positioned the EU Global Gateway as a transparent and values-driven alternative to creating a clean and sustainable global infrastructure through investments of up to €300 billion.
Von der Leyen reiterated the EU’s commitment to working with India on green energy and digitalization. She welcomed Modi’s declaration that India will be energy independent before the 100th anniversary of its independence in 2047, and said Global Gateway could help India and Bangladesh by bringing hydropower generated in Nepal. and Bhutan and building clean hydrogen infrastructure.
In the digital realm, India and the EU can work together to develop technology based on core values and standard setting.
“Today both India and the EU recognize that we are better off when we develop global standards for new technologies such as 5G, instead of pursuing separate national solutions…We share the the idea that privacy should be guaranteed both online and offline, and that technology should empower individual freedom, not the ability of the state to control us,” she said, adding that equivalent rules can unlock even greater data flows between the two regions.
During their bilateral meeting, Modi and Von der Leyen also reviewed the progress made in the implementation of the India-EU Roadmap 2025 and welcomed the decision to formally resume negotiations on the bilateral peace agreements. trade and investment in June.
Both sides “expressed their hope for the early conclusion of the negotiations to unlock the full potential of the bilateral trade and economic relationship”, and highlighted the strong synergies between the India-EU Connectivity Partnership announced last year and the EU Global Gateway initiative.