When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Vladimir Putin that “today’s era is not one of war” last month, the West hailed his comments as a sign that the world’s largest democracy world was finally emerging from Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron praised Modi and the White House hailed what it called a “statement of principle”.
But the reality, analysts say, is less straightforward.
Rather than cutting economic ties with the Kremlin, India undermined Western sanctions by increasing its purchases of Russian oil, coal and fertilizer, giving Putin a vital financial lifeline.
New Delhi has repeatedly abstained from votes condemning Russia at the United Nations, giving Moscow a veneer of international legitimacy. And in August, India took part in the large-scale Russian Vostok military exercises alongside China, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan – where Moscow paraded its vast arsenal.
India last week abstained from another UN draft resolution condemning Russia for its sham referendums in four regions of Ukraine, which served as a pretext for Moscow to illegally annex Ukrainian territory. , greatly raising the stakes of the war.
India is “deeply troubled” by developments in Ukraine, said Ruchira Kamboj, New Delhi’s permanent representative to the UN, but refrained from assigning blame and called for a “cease- immediate fire and conflict resolution”.
This apparent contradiction illustrates India’s unique position on the war: verbally distancing itself from Russia, while continuing to maintain essential ties with Moscow.
Modi’s “stronger language towards Putin” must be seen in the context of rising food, fuel and fertilizer prices, and the “difficulties this was creating for other countries”, said Professor Deepa Ollapally. researcher and director of the Rising Powers Initiative at Elliott. School of International Affairs, George Washington University.
“There is a certain level of impatience (for India) with the escalation of the war,” she said. “There is a feeling that Putin is pushing the boundaries of India because in some way they have put themselves in danger. And that is not a comfortable position for India.
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