Even as External affairs minister S Jaishankar was meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in a bilateral meeting in Moscow, reports surfaced that the Indian Army is now also dominating heights overlooking the Chinese Army positions in the strategic Finger 4 area along the Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh. The Indian Army has been taking this pre-emptive action to prevent the Chinese from occupying any more territory which falls on India's side of the LAC.
The Indian government was expected to use its dominant position in the heights as a leverage to extract ‘concessions’ from the Chinese. In this backdrop, both leaders had a two-hour meeting in which Jaishankar underscored the need to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region, and reiterated that Indian forces had never tried to change the status quo along the LAC.
Jaishankar and Wang are in Moscow to attend a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting. In a virtual press conference before the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs reiterated India's position that it is committed to resolve the current situation through peaceful negotiations.
The meeting was the last chance the two sides had for the resolution of the conflict. However, even the most optimistic experts did not expect any dramatic outcome in the meeting in Moscow. A part of the problem is that China has a tendency to renege on its commitments on the negotiation table.
‘‘If the meeting fails to reach a positive result, or if the two sides cannot execute the agreement on the ground, this could be a dangerous signal,’’ a report had said prior to the meeting. However, defence experts do not expect a full-blown war to break out anytime soon. “It is difficult to predict the trajectory of the face-off, but we haven't reached the threshold of war. Things can build up into a full-blown conflict, but so far there have been only pinpricks. The Chinese deployment right now is non-tactical,” a top government source told a TV channel on Wednesday.
Behind the scene, India has sent out a message that it is prepared for a long-drawn occupation of the heights even in the Siberian winter of eastern Ladakh.