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Neutral Policy On Russia-Ukraine Conflict Not Good For India – OpEd

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At the United Nations General Assembly, India abstained during voting when Ukrainian draft resolution that held Russia responsible for the crisis was put to vote. At the United Nations Security Council, India abstained from voting on the resolution moved by Russia on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

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In technical term, abstention from voting means that India neither approves nor disapproves the role of Ukraine or role of Russia in the conflict.

However, the fact is that this war was started by Russia and not Ukraine and Russia is attacking Ukraine and Ukraine is not attacking Russia. Obviously, the voting should indicate whether Russia’s action is approved or disapproved and the voting decision concerns only the role of Russia. In such situation, when India abstains from voting , it obviously means that India is supporting Russia by not condemning it. The world wide consensus opinion is that India has stood by the side of Russia in this conflict, though India has tried to make it look by delivering cosmetic speech in UNO that it remains neutral in this issue.

Two flawed decisions and consequences

In the early 1950s , China sent it’s army to Tibet and massacred thousands of innocent and protesting Tibetans and occupied Tibet which China continues to occupy , ruling Tibet with iron hand and vice like grip.

In this issue, India did a historical mistake by remaining neutral and without condemning China for its acts of aggression in Tibet. This mistake is now proving to be too costly for India , as China is sharing long border with India , resulting in China sending it’s troops to fight against India on more than one occasion and occupying thousands of kilometres of Indian territory. China is now claiming Arunachal Pradesh in India as belonging to China and China is now the biggest threat for India in protecting India’s territorial integrity.

The mistake that India did with regard to Tibet issue in early 1950s is now being repeated by India in the case of Russia Ukraine conflict. While it is clearly seen by everyone around the world that Ukraine is a victim of aggression, India says that it would remain neutral with regard to this conflict, just as it did when China entered Tibet. In the early 1950s, India did not want to displease China and now India does not want to displease Russia.

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USA and NATO countries are imposing several sanctions against Russia, which is likely to weaken Russia economically and politically in the coming period. The only big country that is supporting Russia today is China. With a weakened Russia, there is bound to emerge a Russia China axis where Russia will be a junior partner. This emerging situation is inevitable and would benefit China immensely.

Today, the biggest hurdle for China in carrying out it’s greedy territorial expansion strategies is India and China is considering India as number one enemy for all practical purposes and doing everything possible to create issues for India. While China considers USA as a competitor , it considers India as an enemy. This is the ground reality.

With China Russia axis emerging, the immediate target for China would be to fulfill it’s ambition of occupying Taiwan and invading India to occupy Arunachal Pradesh and whatever regions on the way.

India professing neutrality in Russia Ukraine conflict means that many countries would remain reluctant to sympathise with India in the case of war with China, as India has not sympathized with Tibet and Ukraine when thousands of people in these countries have been killed and infrastructure heavily damaged by the invading forces.

Why neutrality is against India’s interest?

There is a view in India that India’s neutrality decision is pragmatic , since Russia stood by India in the past on many occasions in the case of conflict with Pakistan and on Kashmir issue. The second argument is that India is the large buyer of arms from Russia and therefore , India should not antagonize Russia. The third argument is that Russia has participation in some large industrial projects in India by way of equity and technology support.

However, the ground reality is that when India does not want to antagonize Russia, the result is India has caused displeasure amongst countries such as Canada , USA and NATO countries.

The fact is that USA and Western countries have also helped India in several ways in the past, politically, economically and technologically. India shares many values with USA and NATO countries with regard to democratic system of governance , liberty and freedom for individuals etc. Lakhs of Indians have migrated to these countries in the past and they feel comfortable there.

In the event of war with China , Russia would be a lip sympathizer for India due to Russia China axis and western countries would remind themselves about India’s neutral stand with regard to Russia Ukraine conflict.

In the event of a war with China , which is likely considering China’s greed and ruthless behaviour , if western countries were not to come to India’s help, then India would face an extremely difficult situation

Neutrality can be counter productive

In the geo political conditions of the world today, one has to necessarily identify which country is the friend and which country is the foe.

For India, China is the foe and an alliance with western countries is an inevitable need for India.

It is surprising that Modi government has acted in the way that it has done in this Russia Ukraine conflict.

India’s anxiety that it has to keep Russia in good humour due to arms supply and some technical collaboration is unnecessary , since both India and Russia gained by such cooperation. Certainly, Russia needs India more than India needs Russia today , as India has other options and Russia does not have many options left. Russia’s cooperation with India would continue, even if India would give up it’s neutral stand in the Russia Ukraine conflict.

Finally, one factor that Modi government seem to have ignored is that this neutral stand when one country is clearly the victim , has made India lose it’s claim as a country wedded to ethical and moral values in international relations and as an uncompromising advocate of world peace.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

One thought on “Neutral Policy On Russia-Ukraine Conflict Not Good For India – OpEd

  • March 26, 2022 at 4:27 pm
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    The concept that you are not with me then you are against me …is fundamentally against democratic principles and spread by proponents of a unipolar world, a very dangerous world will emerge out of this. There will be slave countries, the king country and the close associates of the king countries.

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