India and Russia have held the annual summit since 2000 without a break. However, this year it was cancelled due to COVID-19. India’s main opposition party leader Rahul Gandhi has slammed the report, saying that "damaging our traditional relationship with Russia is short-sighted and dangerous."
India's foreign ministry has rejected a report – published by India's The Print news outlet – that claims Russia and India's annual summit to develop bilateral relations was cancelled this year due to soured relations, calling it "false and misleading."
Shrivastava said that “spreading false stories on important relationships is particularly irresponsible.”
The statement comes shortly after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted "Russia is a very important friend of India. Damaging our traditional relationships is short-sighted and dangerous for our future" in response to the report.
Russia is a very important friend of India. Damaging our traditional relationships is short-sighted and dangerous for our future. pic.twitter.com/U5VyFWeS6L
The Print linked the cancellation of the summit for the first time since 2000 to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov comments on the Quad; he expressed reservations about New Delhi joining the coalition, saying “India is currently an object of the Western countries’ persistent, aggressive, and devious policy as they are trying to engage it in anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies, the so-called Quad.”
The navies of the four Quad countries – India, Japan, the US, and Australia – earlier this year held their first naval drills since 2008. The exercises followed the 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, which came amid India's border standoff with China.
Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay R.Kudashev also touched on the article “India-Russia annual summit postponed for 1st time in two decades amid Moscow’s unease with Quad” by The Print.
Sources from India's foreign ministry also mentioned that it's not only the annual summit with Russia that's been postponed, but several other annual summits have also been called off this year due to the pandemic.