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India is under increasing pressure to criticise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: A Ukrainian citizen living in India lights candles, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in New Delhi, India, February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo

The Indian opposition stepped up pressure on the government on Wednesday to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a day after an Indian student was killed in shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s eastern metropolis.

The news: India has yet to publicly criticise long-time arms supplier Russia, instead pushing both parties to end hostilities, generating frustration among India’s other allies, particularly the US.

  • Thousands of Indian students are still stranded in Ukraine, prompting calls for the government to increase pressure on Russia to help with evacuation attempts.
  • “The Government of India should stop its verbal balancing act and sternly demand that Russia stop immediately the bombing of key cities in Ukraine,” tweeted P. Chidambaram, a lawmaker from the opposition Congress party.
  • Last week, India abstained from a UN Security Council resolution condemning the invasion, though it has since softened its stance.

What’s going on: During a call with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “stressed upon the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations,” according to a statement released by India’s foreign ministry late Tuesday.

  • In addition, an Indian foreign ministry source indicated that India had informally adopted a critical stance with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What’s important: Russia has historically backed India on international issues such as Kashmir, a disputed area shared by India, Pakistan, and China, as well as providing the majority of its military capability.

  • For decades, New Delhi has tried to reduce its reliance on Russian-made weaponry while maintaining a strong enough connection with Moscow to prevent Moscow from aligning itself more closely with rival Asian giant China.
  • “India is increasingly uncomfortable with the position that Russia has taken, but it is very difficult for it to voice it in public,” said Harsh Pant, a defence and geopolitical analyst at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation. 
  • Sixty per cent of India’s military gear is still built in Russia, and maintaining a relationship with Moscow is critical for maintaining equipment and obtaining spare parts.
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