India’s Ukraine Policy

EXTERNAL Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that India supports conducting an independent investigation with respect to the killings that took place in Bucha. Speaking on the situation in Ukraine in the parliament, Jaishankar said the conflict in Ukraine has had significant consequences for the global economy and for India’s economy. “Like all countries, we too are assessing the implications and deciding what is best for our national interest," he further said. The foreign minister added that India has chosen the side of peace and it is for “an immediate end to violence." No solution, he said, can be arrived at by shedding blood and at the cost of innocent lives.

This is the first time that India has clearly articulated its policy on Ukraine. Jaishankar said that “in this day and age, dialogue and diplomacy are the right answers to any dispute."  On Tuesday, foreign minister spoke to United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken ahead of next week's India-US '2+2' dialogue. It was the second telephonic conversation between the two in a week and much of it was focussed on the ongoing war in Ukraine.  The West is concerned about India's intention to buy more discounted crude oil from Russia.

Last week, the visiting US Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Daleep Singh had cautioned that there will be consequences for countries actively attempting to "circumvent or backfill" American sanctions against Moscow. He also warned Indian leadership that Washington would not like to see a "rapid" acceleration in India's import of energy and other commodities from Russia.

Similarly,  US President Joe Biden has also expressed his displeasure at India’s position on the crisis in Ukraine, saying the world had launched a united front across Europe and the Pacific on the Russian attack on Ukraine with the "possible exception of India". He also described India's response to the Russian invasion as "somewhat shaky". Now the Ukraine crisis is likely to come up in the '2+2' dialogue between India and the U.S., slated to be held in Washington on April 11.

This is likely to pile up more pressure on India and force it to take a position against Russian invasion of Ukraine. And the foreign minister’s speech in the parliament makes it clear that there is an attempt to make India’s policy on Ukraine appear less ambivalent. Going forward, India and the nations across the world may re-adjust their policies depending on the likely outcome of the war. That said, India is within its rights to pursue an independent foreign policy which is in the best interest of the people of the country.

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