Anurag Srivastava said summit cancellation was a “mutually agreed” upon by India, Russia (File)

New Delhi:

The India-Russia annual summit was cancelled because of the Covid crisis, the government said today, denouncing what it called “false and misleading” reports suggesting otherwise. The foreign ministry’s statement came shortly after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted that “damaging traditional relationships” was dangerous for India’s future.

“The India-Russia Annual Summit did not take place in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic. This was a mutually agreed decision between the two governments. Any imputation otherwise is false and misleading. Spreading false stories in important relationships is particularly irresponsible,” foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

Earlier, Rahul Gandhi had tweeted, along with a media report: “Russia is a very important friend of India. Damaging our traditional relationships is short-sighted and dangerous for our future.”

Some reports have linked the cancellation of the summit for the first time since 2000 to Moscow’s comments on Monday expressing reservations about India joining the Quadrilateral coalition or Quad, saying it would be detrimental to inclusive dialogue for ensuring peace and stability in the region.

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The Quad, a grouping of the US, India, Japan and Australia, is aimed at ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and is seen as a counter to growing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

Deputy Chief of the Russian mission Roman Babushkin was quoted by news agency PTI as saying: “We are facing some attempts by some countries to create containment and alienation in the Indo-Pacific region which could threaten and jeopardise basic principles for regional cooperation, for example ASEAN centrality and ASEAN unity… Quad would be detrimental to the inclusive dialogue in the region.”

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