As Putin escalates Russia's war on Ukraine, Delhi's carefully calibrated position is looking increasingly untenable – The Indian Express

Moscow’s escalation of the war in Ukraine has placed enormous strain on India’s careful balancing act between an old and important friend and its deep and significant partnerships with the United States and Europe. The Russian missile attacks on Kyiv, Lviv and other cities in Ukraine have destroyed buildings, killed and injured people. The missile bombardment followed the bombing of a vital bridge over the Kerch Strait, the only direct link between Russia and Crimea, the Ukrainian territory Moscow annexed in 2014, though it is yet unclear who was responsible for this attack. The relentless Russian bombing of cities in Ukraine, the mass displacement of millions of Ukrainians and the thousands of casualties have brought home to Europe the horrors of conflict for the first time since the Second World War, and led to militarisation of the continent on a scale not seen since the end of the Cold War. Delhi has, from the start, advocated a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two neighbours, and to this end, it abstained from voting on resolutions against Russia at the United Nations Security Council. India’s decision was also driven by the dependence on Russian defence supplies. Later, it enabled Delhi to buy cheaper oil.
The first sign that Delhi was finding it difficult to uphold this delicate neutrality came with Prime Minister Narendra Modi telling Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO summit at Samarkand that “this is not the time for war”. The subtext was clear. While the tightrope walk continues, it seems increasingly untenable. India’s abstaining on October 1 from voting on a Security Council resolution that would have condemned Moscow’s annexation of four Ukrainian territories as “illegal” (it was vetoed by Russia) caused widespread surprise. On October 10, India appeared to be making up for that when it voted, along with 100 other countries, against the Russian demand that an upcoming vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution against the annexation should be a secret ballot. This is only the second time that India has voted against Russia in the last eight months.
By now, it is quite clear that this war will have no winners. While Russia and Ukraine will end up devastated for sure, the rest of Europe stares into a long dark and cold winter, quite literally so, with energy shortages looming. Other parts of the world await an end to a conflict that has disrupted economies and caused universal hardship. It is time for the international community to renew efforts, given up all too easily at the start of the war, to find a peaceful resolution. As a country whose positions on this conflict were closely watched and dissected by friends, allies and others, Delhi must put to use its global standing and goodwill with both sides to make a forceful call for an end to this war.
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