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In an interesting development, the United States has pointed to a prominent role that India could play in ending the conflict (TNS, 2023). This sends out a signal about the capabilities of India as a nation that has acquired a strong and confident voice on the global stage in recent years. With this statement released by the US Secretary, there is a growing international interest in the opportunity India has to use its diplomatic channels for ending the Russia-Ukraine War.
What has India done till now?
There was a similar talk doing the rounds at the start of the war when the Indian government swiftly rescued stranded Indians while it was difficult for many other countries to do the same. About 18,000 people from the area were rescued, with the Indian Prime Minister at the helm of operation planning. It is important to note that even at that time, the Indian PM had appealed for an end to the violence multiple times. Not only the stranded Indians but also citizens from India’s neighboring countries were rescued (IANS, 2022).
By not condemning Russia on the global platforms, India faced wrath from the West. However, at the same time, India has been constantly calling attention to the United Nations Charter regarding the sanctity of territorial sovereignty and the inadmissibility of nuclear weapons use. India is trying to convince both Russia and Ukraine to come to a fair settlement of the conflict in the interest of the world.
After nearly a year of military conflict, India’s role has become more significant, being on good terms with both the West and Russia and thus having the ability to play the role of a peacemaker between the warring parties. The meeting between Russian President Putin and Indian Prime Minister Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit 2022 at Samarkand did not go unnoticed. The Indian leader emphasized the use of diplomacy for ending the war (Menon & Rumer, 2022). India has shared a long history with Russia during and after the Cold War. India and Russia are part of many groupings and exercises. For Russia, India has been a stable market for arms and crude oil (ibid.) Recently, fertilisers too have been added to the list of imports. As a true friend, India is doing its duty by nudging Russia to do better through constant communication.
India’s relations with Russia and the West
The West has been very critical of India’s closeness with Russia and especially so in recent times. However, that has not stopped the West from seeking to collaborate with India on various subject matters like the economy, trade and defense. As India becomes the fifth fastest-growing economy, ahead of Britain, much of the world is also interested in pushing for stronger ties. Next year, India will sign comprehensive free trade agreements with the United Kingdom and Canada. It has a significant defence partnership with the United States which has recognized New Delhi‘s vital role in the Indo-Pacific region.
What can India do?
As Menon and Rumer (2022) mention in their paper, India is now ‘increasingly set out to seek its own terms of engagement’. By not joining the West’s sanctions on Russia, India has shown its ‘independent foreign policy’ by looking after its own interests as advocated and practiced by the present government.
India is showing how dialogues could be used constructively to bridge the gaps by speaking for the interests of the developing nation and partnering with the developed ones. As the West is already viewed with cynicism in Russia, India could step up to try to mediate between them.
Ending the Russia- Ukraine war is crucial for the world economy, especially for the West which faces a major crisis in terms of energy supplies and inflation. Yet disruption in the global supply chain is also harming developing countries, resulting in a food crisis (AlJazeera, 2022).
India is garnering attention by addressing global problems not only in words but also in actions. Being the President of the G-20, all eyes are now on New Delhi. This is the right opportunity for India to seek its rightful place in the international arena by displaying its influence and skill in defusing a major crisis.
AlJazeera. (2022, November 28). India in a ‘good position’ to help end Russia-Ukraine war. Retrieved January 15, 223, from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/28/india-in-a-good-position-to-help-end-russia-ukraine-war
IANS. (2022, March 15). Explained: How India got its citizens out of Ukraine under Operation Ganga. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from Business Standard: https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/explained-how-india-got-its-citizens-out-of-ukraine-under-operation-ganga-122031500135_1.html
Menon, R., & Rumer, E. (2022, September ). Russia and India: A New Chapter. Retrieved January 15, 2023, from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: https://carnegieendowment.org/2022/09/20/russia-and-india-new-chapter-pub-87958
TNS. (2023, January 7). In touch with India to end Ukraine war, impose costs on Russia: US. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from The Tribune: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/in-touch-with-india-to-end-ukraine-war-impose-costs-on-russia-us-468477