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India's nuanced response: Relations with Russia and US amidst Russia-Ukraine war

By Prof Sudhanshu Tripathi* 

The ongoing war in Ukraine has not only caused large-scale destruction within the region but has also resulted into rippling effects throughout the world, leading to arouse a complex net of international relations and alliances. While India having its historical-traditional ties with Russia and its growing partnership with America finds itself walking a tightrope, as it interacts simultaneously with both the major powers during the war in Ukraine, unfortunately it is still yearning to discharge its due role to reduce tensions between the two belligerents.
As a matter of fact, New Delhi has long maintained strong and multi-faceted relations with the erstwhile USSR which disintegrated during 1989-90 and was then succeeded by Russia as it today stands in the international community of nations. The partnership between the two countries spans many decades since the end of the IInd World War and encompasses various domains such as defense, cultural exchanges and energy. Indeed Russia continues to be a significant supplier of military hardware to India even today while both nations have collaborated on numerous global issues, including counterterrorism and regional stability.
However, the ongoing war in Ukraine has obviously strained India's relations with Russia, as New Delhi maintains its silence over continuing aggression by Moscow and also over the US led western power’s massive logistical support to Ukraine. That continues to sustain this war, on the one hand, and accrues immense benefits to America and other western states from sale of arms and ammunition, on the other. Thus India has meticulously chosen a prudent stand, neither overtly condemning nor fully endorsing Russia's actions in Ukraine. In fact, Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support for separatist movements in eastern Ukraine have raised concerns among the international community, including India.
Indeed, India, known for its adherence to non-alignment and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, has had to tread carefully when it comes to supporting Russia's actions. In fact, New Delhi has consistently called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict through dialogue and diplomatic means. While reiterating its support for Ukraine's territorial integrity, India has underscored the importance of all parties involved engaging in constructive dialogue to find a solution that respects sovereignty and upholds international norms.
This balanced stance is aimed at avoiding alienating Russia while maintaining India's commitment to globalism. It highlights India's insistence on diplomatic solutions rather than endorsing or participating in any military actions. India's historical ties with Russia play a role in shaping its approach, as it seeks to maintain a strong relationship while also adhering to its principles of non-interference.
On the other hand, India's relations with the United States have seen significant progress during the war in Ukraine. Over the past decade, India and the U.S. have deepened their strategic ties, encompassing areas such as defense cooperation, trade, and technology transfer. The United States has emerged as one of India's key partners, particularly in the defense sector.
During the Ukraine crisis, the United States has taken a strong stand against Russia's actions, imposing sanctions and providing military aid to Ukraine. While India has not explicitly aligned itself with the U.S., its growing partnership has resulted in a more nuanced position. India has expressed concerns over Russia's actions but has refrained from openly criticizing Russia, given its historical ties and the need to balance relations with both countries.
India's careful approach is influenced by several factors, including its long-standing policy of non-alignment and strategic autonomy. India values its ability to make independent decisions based on its national interests and maintain cordial relations in the community of nations. By avoiding outright alignment with the United States in the conflict, India aims to preserve its strategic autonomy while leveraging its relationship with America to advance its own interests.
Furthermore, energy security is a crucial consideration for India in the context of the war in Ukraine. Russia is one of India's major suppliers of crude oil, and any disruptions in the energy market due to the conflict could have significant economic implications. India has sought to diversify its energy sources, reducing its dependence on any single country, including Russia. It has increased imports from other nations, such as the United States, to mitigate potential risks and ensure energy stability.
In this scenario, India's approach to the war in Ukraine underscores its commitment to maintain a delicate balance between its relations with Russia and the United States. The country's traditional and historical ties with Russia and its growing strategic partnership with the United States have shaped its nuanced stance. Although the just concluded India’s PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the US has put fresh impetus to the closely evolving bilateral relations between the two largest democracies in the world, yet that never compromises with its long trusted relations with Russia. In fact, India has always put stress upon the need for peaceful dialogue and diplomacy, while expressing concerns over Russia's violent actions and also ignoring the US led NATO powers continuing support to Ukraine.
But this much is not enough for India and it must come forward to take suitable steps to accomplish immediate cessation of hostilities between the two belligerents, Russia and Ukraine. That it can do as it continues to enjoy significant influence and clout in all over the world due to being a staunch supporter of the world peace and welfare of the global humanity all through the past ages up till now, besides being the progenitor of the doctrine of the Nonalignment and also being the founder member of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) as well. Its magnanimity during Covid-19 pandemic was acknowledged by the whole world, including WHO. For this end, India must mobilize support from the like-minded countries like Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and more in the world, given its the peace-loving global image and long-held spiritual-moral position as Spiritual Guru. This may happen as nothing is beyond human endeavor.
---
*MDPG College, Pratapgarh (UP)

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