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Nirav Mehta asked: How has India’s abstention from the UNSC resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine impacted its position on the global stage? What are its implications for India's strategic autonomy?

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  • Rajeesh Kumar replies: For India, the Ukraine crisis is a challenging foreign policy issue. Moscow and Washington are New Delhi's key strategic partners, and abandoning one is not sensible. Though ties between Washington and New Delhi have grown significantly in recent years, New Delhi still maintains a special and privileged friendship with Moscow. Therefore, at the United Nations (UN), India's response to the Ukraine crisis was cautious.

    At the UN, India's response to the Ukraine crisis was two-fold. First, India continued its neutral stance on Ukraine and abstained from UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia. India said that its interest is in finding a solution that can provide for the immediate de-escalation of tensions and emphasised the importance of the UN Charter, sovereignty and territorial integrity. This position was later reiterated by India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in the Parliament. He stated that dialogue and diplomacy are the right answers to any disputes and India has chosen the side of peace. Second, India's utmost priority in Ukraine was the well-being of more than 20,000 Indian nationals living in Ukraine. India's statements in the Security Council and the General Assembly expressed this concern and demanded ensuring safe passage for stranded civilians.

    Though India's UNSC response over Ukraine has met with some criticism from its Western partners, it has managed to navigate its foreign policy, especially its 'strategic autonomy', without much blowback. The recent India–United States 2+2 ministerial dialogue and the QUAD summit are cases in point. These meetings and their outcomes show that for the West, India is one of the most important partners.

    Posted on 17 June 2022

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.