Western pressure and UN vote strengthen Delhi’s tightrope
With the United Nations Security Council expected to consider a draft resolution condemning the Russian invasion in the early hours of Saturday, India is caught in a diplomatic tie between Western powers, led by the United States, and its strategic imperatives vis-à-vis Russia.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar held phone conversations on Thursday evening with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, insisting that dialogue and diplomacy are the best way forward to defuse the crisis Ukrainian. As Russian troops reached the gates of Kiev, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Jaishankar and shared his “assessment” of the situation.
On Friday, European countries’ ambassadors to India gathered in New Delhi and expressed their solidarity with their Ukrainian counterpart and strongly condemned Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified” military attack on Ukraine. European Union Ambassador to India and Bhutan Ugo Astuto said the EU and its member states stand in solidarity with Ukraine’s Ambassador to India Igor Polikha.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Thursday, Polikha said Kyiv was “deeply unhappy” with India’s stance. “I don’t know how many world leaders (Vladimir) Putin would listen to, but the status of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji makes me optimistic.”
All of this added to New Delhi’s diplomatic challenge. Even more so given the wording of the draft UN resolution proposed by the United States and Albania.
According to a US State Department official in Washington DC, the resolution condemns, in the strongest possible terms, “Russia’s aggression, invasion and violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. It reaffirms the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And it demands that the Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its forces.
This formulation has pushed New Delhi into a diplomatic corner a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, called for “an immediate cessation of violence”, but avoided echoing the chorus of Western outrage.
US President Joe Biden said his administration was in “consultations with India”, but “this has not yet been resolved” – signaling the rift between New Delhi and Washington on the issue.
Biden also said, “Putin will be a pariah on the international stage. Any nation that approves of Russia’s open aggression against Ukraine will be tainted with association.
As Russia, which holds the presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of February, will chair it, and is certain to veto the resolution, it will test India’s position. : on which side of the divide will it take — or will it abstain? like the last time.
On January 31, India abstained in a procedural vote on whether to discuss the Ukraine issue. India had then articulated its position on “legitimate security interests” which echoed a nuanced inclination towards the Russian position, and had abstained with Kenya and Gabon.
This statement was made during the UNSC meeting on Ukraine, where Russia and China tried to block discussions while 10 UNSC members – including the United States, the United Kingdom and France – voted in favor of discussion. The UNSC had continued the discussions, since 10 countries – it needed 9 votes in favor – had voted in favor of the discussions.
But this time it’s not just a procedural vote, it’s a more substantive issue on which strong words of condemnation – “blood on (Putin’s) hands – have been spoken ,
Asked if India, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates are not condemning Russia’s actions, the US official said: “Now there is a resolution that is put on the table, and I think every Council member is going to have to decide where she stands. As (US Ambassador to the UN) Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, now is not the time to sit on the fence And I think we’ll see over the next few days where members of the Council are on this fundamental issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and I think you’ll see Russia isolated and held accountable to the rest of the world to the Security Council.”
Sources said this was the moot point of the calls between Blinken and Jaishankar. According to the US State Department, Blinken spoke with Jaishankar to discuss Russia’s “premeditated, unprovoked and unwarranted” attack on Ukraine and “underscored the importance of a strong collective response to condemn the invasion of Russia and call for an immediate withdrawal and a ceasefire”.
In his talks with Lavrov, Jaishankar told him that “dialogue and diplomacy” are the best way to defuse the crisis.