In News: With regard to the continuing Russia-Ukraine war, Prime Minister Narendra Modi connected with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a telephonic call.
- Mr. Zelenskyy responded that he would not conduct any negotiations with the “current President of the Russian Federation”.
- He complimented Mr. Modi for his “now is not the time for war” comment. In turn, Mr. Modi told him that there is no military solution to the conflict.
- Over the past seven months, the war and western sanctions have had a dramatic impact on global security, food, fuel and energy supplies, and it is important to keep the lines of communication open.
- The unfolding developments in Ukraine have also played out in the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, where India is serving as a non-permanent member.
India’s Position and Dialogues:
- India’s position on the Ukraine conflict has been steadfast and consistent. India has expressed deep concern at the worsening situation and called for immediate cessation of violence and end to all hostilities.
- India, at the UNSC and UNGA, has urged an urgent ceasefire and ensuring safe passage for stranded civilians. India has also highlighted the humanitarian assistance extended to Ukraine and its neighbours at this hour of crisis.
- Since the unfolding of this crisis, Prime Minister spoke with the leadership of Russian Federation, Ukraine, and its neighbours as well other major world leaders; and conveyed the view to all parties concerned that there is no other choice but the path of diplomacy and dialogue.
- Prime Minister reiterated that India has always stood for peaceful resolution of issues and direct dialogue between the two parties and thanked Ukrainian authorities for their facilitation in enabling more than 22,000 Indian citizens from Ukraine.
- Prime Minister also spoke with President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, on the status of negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian teams. He suggested that a direct conversation between President Putin and President Zelenskyy may greatly assist the ongoing peace efforts.
- India has emphasised that the global order is anchored on international law, UN Charter and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of states. Our position on the situation in Ukraine in various international fora and bodies reflects this reasoning.
- Despite its discomfort with Moscow’s war, New Delhi has adopted a studied public neutrality toward Russia.
- Evidence of Neutrality: It has abstained from successive votes in the UN Security Council, General Assembly, and Human Rights Council that condemned Russian aggression in Ukraine and thus far has refused to openly call out Russia as the instigator of the crisis.
- Response of the U.S.: India’s neutrality has been disappointing because it signalled a sharp divergence on the legitimacy of using force to change borders and occupy another nation’s territory through a blatant war of conquest.
- Causes: India’s public neutrality toward the Russian invasion is partially driven by its concerns vis-à-vis China and Pakistan – seen as immediate and enduring threats. Preserving its friendship with Moscow will help to prevent deepening Russian ties with China and to limit Russian temptations to build new strategic ties with Pakistan.
- Importance of relations with Russia: Russia is a sturdy friend of India’s going back to 1955, when Soviet premier declared Moscow’s support for Indian claims over Jammu and Kashmir. The Soviet Union wielded vetoes in the UNSC on India’s behalf on six occasions. Keeping Russia on side through its veto-wielding prerogatives thus remains an important consideration that reinforces India’s reticence to criticize Russia. Russia also remains a critical source of weapons for India.
- Nuclear safety: The Zaporizhzhia plant which falls under Oblast province, is under Russian control and is near the scene of fighting. Endangerment of nuclear facilities could have catastrophic consequences for public health and environment.
- Loss of credibility with the U.S.: India stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States in opposing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific while at the same time, it is appearing tolerant of the vastly more egregious Russian belligerence in Europe.
- Inconsistency in diplomacy: It exposes the inconsistency in India’s commitment to protecting the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific over that in Europe, at a time when its biggest international partners—economic and strategic—are both united in their determination to penalize Russia and at odds with India’s posture on Ukraine.
- Loss of public image: It also leaves India in the company of strange bedfellows such as China and Pakistan, which happen to be India’s adversaries and have behaved toward India as Russia has toward Ukraine.
- There should be adherence to the UN charter and protection of territorial sovereignty.
- Role of other institutions such as IAEA must be leveraged – is involved in brokering talks between Ukraine and Russia to enforce a nuclear protective zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant.
- India has an established record in global peace-making. Mr. Modi expressed “India’s readiness to contribute to any peace efforts”.
- However, New Delhi can only play that part if it also sets out its position more clearly, and links it to it actions on the global stage.
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