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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference following a meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia June 16, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

MOSCOW: Russia will not be stepping in to mediate between China and India following a deadly border clash in the Himalayas, the country’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

Sergey Lavrov said after a video call with his Chinese and Indian counterparts that Beijing and New Delhi don’t need outside assistance to settle their differences.

“We never had a goal to help India and China develop their bilateral ties,” Lavrov said in a call with reporters. “India and China have every opportunity to tackle and solve any problems in relations between them.”

Lavrov spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in the wake of last week’s clashes which saw 20 Indian soldiers die. China has not released any information on its casualties.

India seeks Russian missile system

India is pushing Russia to speed up the delivery of a missile defence system as ties with China deteriorate following the worst military clash between the Asian nations in four decades.

A meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart in Moscow could prove just as important for India as it looks to increase its defence capabilities. They are expected to discuss the India-China border tensions and New Delhi’s desire to ensure an unimpeded and early supply of military spares from Russia, long one of the country’s top defence suppliers.

Singh plans to seek the advanced delivery of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile defence system — currently due in December 2021 — and the purchase of Russian-made jet fighters Su-30Mki and MiG-29, people familiar with the details said. India and Russia signed the S-400 deal worth than $5 billion in 2018.

Balancing act

The missile system will provide heft to the country’s otherwise antiquated air defences, while the additional fighters will boost the capability of the Indian Air Force. It needs 10 more squadrons of fighters to supplement the 32 currently in operation, said the people, who asked not to be named citing rules on speaking to the media. A squadron has between 16 and 18 warplanes.