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India’s vote in UN on the Russia-Ukraine conflict

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    2nd Sep, 2022

Context

India for the first time voted against Russia during a “procedural vote” at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Ukraine.

About

What did India vote for (just for inviting the Ukrainian President)?

  • India has voted for a procedural matter that Russia opposed at the UN Security Council.
    • Going against Moscow's stance, India joined 12 other members of the Council to vote for inviting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak via a remote video link.
  • While speaking at the meeting, India's Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj stuck to New Delhi's distinctive version of neutrality in the Ukraine conflict.

On the 31st anniversary of Ukraine's independence, the UN Security Council met to assess the six-month-old conflict. 

Points highlighted by Ukrainian President

  • Zelensky demanded that the Russian Federation be held accountable for its actions against Ukraine.
  • The Ukrainian President called on Russia to cease its “nuclear blackmail” and completely withdraw from the plan.

What was India’s Stand on its voting in favour of Ukraine?

  • India has not criticized Russia for its aggression against Ukraine. It is still on its ‘NEUTRAL’
  • It wants both countries to return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue.
  • It has also expressed its support for all diplomatic efforts to end the conflict between the two countries.

Why India’s neutral approach is beneficial?

  • Emerging as an important state: With its neutral approach, India has emerged as a big, strategically important swing state inviting a lot of global attention.
  • Making the best out of all: India has showcased the fullest expression of strategic autonomy.
    • It is a posture that relies on diplomatic activism, geopolitical pragmatism, prioritizing national interests over bloc politics, and maintaining good relationships with all sides so that these relationships can be leveraged to eke out the best possible outcome for India, even amid moments of global turmoil.
  • Maximize policy space: Strategic autonomy is also an attempt to maximize policy space.
  • Avoiding constraints: India sees bloc politics as a constraint on its actions and choices.

What does the West want from India?

  • The West has been trying to lead a united, multilateral effort to criticize Russia.
  • They knew that failing to swing India to their side would create a diplomatic loophole for Russia to exploit.
  • The West also wants to discourage India from buying Russian oil.
  • The West is aware of the nature of India’s dependence on Russian arms.
  • The US, for instance, has hinted that it is ready to provide India with alternatives to encourage New Delhi’s diversification of military supplies and lessen its reliance on Russian weapons systems.

India’s dependency on Russia

  • Russia standing with India in Global alliances: India has relied on Russia's veto at the U.N. to protect itself from any adverse statement on Kashmir.
    • For example, during the East Pakistani crisis of 1971 - which led to the creation of Bangladesh - the Soviets protected India from censure at the U.N., vetoing a resolution demanding the withdrawal of troops from the disputed region.
  • In all, the Soviets and Russia have used their veto power six times to protect India.
  • Defence: India is also acutely dependent on Russia for a range of weaponry. In fact, 60% to 70% of India's conventional arsenal is of either Soviet or Russian origin
  • Energy reliance: It isn't just India's defense industry that is reliant on Moscow. India's energy sector is also inextricably tied to Russia.
  • Oil and gases: India also has invested in Russian oil and gas fields. India's state-run Oil and Natural Gas Commission, for example, has long been involved in the extraction of fossil fuels off Sakhalin Island, a Russian island in the Pacific Ocean.
  • To wean Russia’s dependence on China: India may also be mute in its criticism of Russia in an attempt to mollify Russia and wean it off its increasing dependence on China.
  • The India-Russia strategic relationship has weakened as China-Russia relations have strengthened.

Conclusion:

Russia should understand India’s stance on UNSC, as it was rightful for Ukraine to speak and take part in the council’s meeting. India has always supported the neutral paths; however, it has never refrained from taking a stance under its policy of Cooperation and Non-violence.

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