VIEWPOINT : India abstaining on the UN resolution condemning Russia over Ukraine & the West

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the 4th Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, in Melbourne on Feb 11 2022. Photo- ANI

MELBOURNE, 27 February 2022: The West including Australia, has condemned Russia’s special operations in Ukraine and imposed harsh sanctions against Moscow. Putin’s bid to stop NATO’s further expansion into Ukraine is reviving cold war memories – the ones that ended in 1991. India which was with the Soviet Union in the cold war has been cozy to the West in recent times in the emerged post-cold war mess. Its absentation along with China and UAE at the UN condemning Russia at the UN Security Council resolution has been praised in Moscow. The United States must be wondering about this new, not unexpected, situation and, PM Scott Morrison pondering over his best friend’s stand on Ukraine. The Quad resolutions withstanding.

Canberra’s bipartisan foreign policy is strongly glued to America. Its current infatuation towards India with a possible Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has irritated China as being against it. But China and India’s similar positions on Ukraine are not surprising. China considers the Quad and AUKUS are directed against it and its recent closeness with Russia is emerging as a game-changer. Russia is India’s biggest supplier of armaments including the recent SS-400 missiles. Russia also stands with India on the Kashmir issue at the United Nations.

So, it is a truism no regime in New Delhi will spoil relations with Russia. Nor does this affect the warmness with the West. New Delhi’s stand on Maynmaar is also similar to that of Russia and China. During his recent visit to Melbourne, foreign minister Dr. S. Jaishankar explained how insurgents in the North-East drive its policy on Myanmar. A sort of strategic autonomy is practiced by India in foreign relations.

The question now is whether the US-led West and India’s relations remain as cozy as they were emerging pre-Ukraine? The Western media is full of critical stories about India’s internal issues, much to the disliking of the Modi regime. India has called for a peaceful diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis and the safe return of thousands of Indian students there.

The pressure on India from all sides will remain immense. Prolonged strife in Ukraine jacks up global oil prices. India is a big oil importer and high internal oil price is no good for the Indian economy or internal politics. It remains to be seen how New Delhi will balance its global choices and cruise in a chaotic world.

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By Neeraj Nanda

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