The months-long border standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh is likely to be resolved peacefully “very shortly”, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police chief told PTI on Thursday.

In an interview with the news agency, Director General of the ITBP SS Deswal said his soldiers have special winter clothing and nutritious food needed against the severe conditions in eastern Ladakh. Deswal said that “strains in bilateral relations are already evident but we are confident these will be sorted out peacefully very shortly”.

India and China have prepared a three-phase plan to disengage in eastern Ladakh, where a standoff has been going on since June, according to multiple reports. Tensions between India and China flared up after a clash in the Galwan Valley on June 15, when 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed. Military heads of the two countries have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months. But these talks have failed to break the impasse.

Deswal said that the Indo-Tibetan border was the highest international border in the world, adding that every spot is about 10,000 to 11,000 feet high. “All our troops are deployed at that height,” he said. “Oxygen is less, temperature in winters is very severe as it touches up to minus 40 degree Celsius. All these difficulties make the very existence of human beings in that area very difficult and then conducting patrolling on the border is equally tough.”

The ITBP chief further noted the training and acclimatisation of the jawans is a long process. “For protection of our troops we have provided special cold clothing,” Deswal said. “We have upgraded the ration content with high nutrition and high calorie food to survive the cold. These are the working conditions on that border and being an un-demarcated border, a jawan has to be always alert.”

The ITBP, created after the 1962 India-China war, has around 180 posts all along the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control, which stretches from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.

Deswal also said that the central government recently sanctioned 47 new ITBP border posts that will come that are likely to be set up by 2021. “Majority of these new border posts will come up in the state of Arunachal Pradesh,” he added. “We have already identified the sites and the state government is willing to transfer the sites to is in a very advanced stage and we are progressing every day.”

Russia ‘naturally concerned’ about India-China tension

Russia on Thursday said any escalation of tension in the border between India and China would trigger regional instability in Eurasia, reported PTI. Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin, in a virtual media briefing, said that his country was “naturally concerned” about the tension between New Delhi and Beijing.

Babushkin said that it was significant for both the countries to engage in more “constructive dialogue”. He added that respectful dialogue was the main tool in terms of cooperation in the framework of multilateral platforms.

“Russia remains in a unique position since it has special strategic relations with both India and China and these relationships are independent in nature,” he said. “We are naturally concerned with the current tensions between India and China. However, we believe that a peaceful solution is inevitable sooner rather than later.”

He said that respectful dialogue is the main tool when it comes to cooperation in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS. Babushkin said that both the groups have developed dozens of mechanisms of cooperation in sectors, adding that “their relevant interest is growing”. The BRICS grouping comprises of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.