India stands “neutral” on the Ukraine-Russia conflict

Credits: NYTimes via Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Debosmita Ghosh

In a phone conversation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the safety and security of Indian citizens in Ukraine after Putin ordered a full scale military invasion on Ukraine. Modi also called for “immediate cessation of violence”.

At a press conference in White House, U.S. President, Joe Biden responding to a question if India and U.S. were on the same page said, “We are going to have consultations with India. We haven’t resolved that fully,”

Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh said that the country stands “neutral” amid the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

T.S. Tirumurti, India’s delegate at the U.N. Security Council’s emergency meeting on Monday, called for “constructive diplomacy” to address the crisis, but avoided condemning Russia’s decision to send soldiers to Ukraine.

“We call for immediate de-escalation and refraining from any further action that could contribute to a worsening of the situation. We call on all parties to exert greater efforts to bridge divergent interests,” Mr Tirumurti said.

Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his plan to commence a ‘military operation’ in eastern Ukraine, India urged for an immediate de-escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, warning that the situation is in danger of escalating into a major crisis.

Earlier this month, the Indian embassy in Ukraine had issued two advisories for Indian nationals/ students living in Ukraine to temporarily leave the country citing security concerns. On Thursday, for the third time, after Ukraine imposed martial law and the country was being bombed by Russian troops, Indian embassy asked its citizens stranded in Kyiv to take shelter in ‘bomb shelters’.

However, Russia lauded India’s independent stand at the UN Security Council meeting. “We welcome the independent position India has taken in the UN Security Council twice already which was expressed openly by the Indian external affairs minister and other officials,” said Russian chargé d’affaires Roman Babushkin, the senior-most Russian diplomat in New Delhi.

On India’s neutral stand at the UN Security Council meeting, Ukraine’s envoy Igor Polikha in a press briefing said that Ukraine is “deeply dissatisfied”. He added, “India should be much more actively engaged, given the privileged relation India has with Russia. Not just for our safety, but of your own citizen’s safety too, we need the intervention of India.”

On Thursday, a special Ukraine International Airlines flight landed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) carrying 182 Indian citizens, including students from Kyiv. However, an Air India flight that had departed to bring back Indian nationals/students from Ukraine returned after the country had closed its airspace for security reasons.

The Biden administration is thought to have reached out to their Indian counterparts at several levels, requesting full support on the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

(With inputs from different news agencies)