- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
India and UNSC Vote over Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Context: India has abstained on a US-sponsored UN Security Council resolution that deplores Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, with New Delhi saying dialogue is the only answer to settling differences and disputes.
What is the resolution about?
- The UN Security Council voted on the draft resolution 8979 presented by the US and Albania, and co-sponsored by several other nations.
- The resolution deplores Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and decides that
- Russia shall immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine
- Russia shall refrain from any further unlawful threat or use of force against any UN member state.
- Russia immediately withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
- Russia immediately reverse the decision related to the status of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
- The Council’s resolution reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
- India abstained on the vote on draft resolution.
- Russia — which chaired the meeting of the UNSC since it holds the presidency for the month of February — vetoed the resolution
- China shifted from its support for Russia in the previous vote to abstention after the U.S. and Albania, the two “penholders” of the resolution, agreed to drop the reference to Chapter VII (the authorisation of the use of force against Russian troops).
- Despite the remaining 11 members of UNSC, including US, UK, France, voting in favour of the resolution, it did not pass since Russia vetoed it.
- Russia has vetoed UNSC resolutions earlier that were critical of its decision to send troops into Georgia (2008), and Crimea (2014),
Why did India abstain?
- There are four potential options India can/could choose from:
- Condemn Russian aggression- this will pit India against Russia
- support Russian aggression – this will pit it against the U.S. and its allies
- stay silent on Russian aggression – this will be read as pro-Russia
- express displeasure (short of condemning) and call for diplomacy – — which it has taken — is the least harmful.
- Also, India wants to maintain a balance between the Western bloc led by the US, and Russia, since it has strategic relationship with both.
- Apart from the India-Russia defence and strategic partnership, Russia is India’s most trusted P-5 ally when it comes to blocking intrusive resolutions on Kashmir.
- Russia may or may not be able to moderate Chinese antagonism towards India, but an India-Russia strategic partnership may be able to temper India’s growing isolation in a rather friendless region.
- New Delhi needs Moscow’s assistance to manage its continental difficulties through defence supplies, helping it return to central Asia, working together at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) or exploring opportunities for collaboration in Afghanistan.
- On the other hand, India’s relationship with US is at its best with forming informal grouping like QUAD that is having a strategic interest in containing China. Therefore, New Delhi could not actively support Russia.
- On moral grounds also, the invasion is considered as against international law & violation of Sovereignty & territorial integrity of Ukraine.
- India’s problem is China, and it needs both the U.S./the West and Russia to deal with the “China problem”.
- An aggressive Russia is a problem for the U.S. and the West, not for India. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion is Russia’s problem, not India’s.
- By abstaining, India retained the option of reaching out to relevant sides in an effort to bridge the gap and find a middle ground with an aim to foster dialogue and diplomacy
- India said that it is deeply disturbed by the recent turn of developments in Ukraine.
- India reiterated its appeal for cessation of violence and advocated diplomacy, urging the parties concerned to return to the negotiating table.
- It flagged its core concern about Indian nationals in Ukraine who are stuck, most of whom are students.
- India touched upon “territorial integrity and sovereignty” which was the contemporary global order built on the UN Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.
How does the war on Ukraine have major implications for India’s strategic calculus?
- For one, Russian action in Ukraine will no doubt embolden China and its territorial ambitions.
- Second, the new sanctions regime may have implications for India’s defence cooperation with Moscow.
- Third, the longer the standoff lasts, the closer China and Russia could become, which certainly does not help India.
- Finally, the more severe the U.S.-Russia rivalry becomes, the less focus there would be on the Indo-Pacific and China, which is where India’s interests lie.
New Delhi must now consider whether its aspirations to be a “leading power” can be achieved without having a clear position on a conflict that threatens global security,
Connecting the dots:
- International Court of Justice
- US invasion of Afghanistan and withdrawal in 2021.