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India on the Ukrainian Crisis: Stress on Dialogue and Restraint

India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, T.S Tirumurti, expressed concerns over the escalating tensions at the Ukrainian border. Tirumurti was speaking at an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine, that was held after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of 2 Russian-backed separatist regions in Eastern Ukraine.


Tirumurti commented that these developments had the potential to undermine the region’s peace and security. “We have been closely following the evolving developments relating to Ukraine and the related announcement by Russia,” he said.


Calling for “giving space to recent initiatives undertaken by parties which seek to defuse tensions,” India spoke in favour of restraint on all sides and resolving the issue with diplomatic dialogue.


India has, however, attempted to maintain neutrality and did not comment on the recognition of separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.


One of India’s major concerns remains the security of the 20,000 Indian nationals in Ukraine. “More than 20,000 Indian students and nationals live and study in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas. The well-being of Indians is of priority to us.” It was in the same breath that India had previously asked all its nationals in Ukraine to leave the country.


A special Air India flight left New Delhi on Tuesday for Kyiv to bring Indians back. The airline had announced earlier that it will be operating 3 flights to the Ukrainian capital this week to fly Indians out.


Russian chargé d'affaires Roman Babushkin on Wednesday commented that the “independent and balanced” approach of India was welcomed by Russia. “We welcome the independent position India has taken in UN Security Council twice already (and) which was expressed openly by the Indian external affairs minister and other officials,” he said.


Both Russia and the US are important strategic partners of India. The need of maintaining neutrality was evident in India’s statement in the Security Council.


 


Western commentators on the other hand have questioned India, as it is the only QUAD member that has not either announced sanctions against Russia or criticized it for its actions. India on the other hand has made it clear that it does not have a policy of sanctions.


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