Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Analysing India’s stand on the war on Ukraine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC

Mains level : Paper 2- India's vote at the UN on Ukraine

Context

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has placed considerable moral responsibility on India. However, at the United Nations (UN), India has refused to condemn the violation of the rights of the Ukrainians.

Issues involved in India’s vote

1] Commitment to principles

  • National interest: One of the arguments justifying India’s stance is that in international affairs, a country must be guided by its national interest and not some abstract principles.
  • It is pointed out that due to the very high dependence of India on the Soviet Union for defence equipment and the likely need of support on the Pakistan issue in the Security Council, India must not offend Russia by condemning the invasion.
  • Why India should condemn Russia: If a people’s principles are their most deeply held beliefs about how the world must be ordered, then their interest lies in ensuring that their principles prevail in international relations.
  • Thus, if India does not want to see itself to be the victim of territorial aggression in the future, it must communicate strongly on the world stage that it condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

2] India-West relations

  • In the 1950s the West was clearly unsympathetic to India, playing its card openly on the Kashmir issue at the UN as early as 1947.
  • On the other hand, the Soviet Union, the precursor to the present-day Russian state, had rescued India several times by exercising its veto in the UN Security Council.
  • Now, close to 75 years later, the situation has changed.
  • Public opinion in the West does not favour unconditional support of Pakistan vis-à-vis India while Russia encourages Pakistan.
  • Moreover, we know by now that some limited support at the UN matters little, as taking the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council has not got Pakistan to withdraw from the territory it occupied.

3] India’s dependence on Russia for defence supplies

  •  It is indeed correct that India relies on the Russians for such equipment and their spare parts.
  • At the same time there is a global market for arms. It is not evident that anything withheld by the Russians cannot be sourced from that market.
  •  For India to base its public stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the assured supply of armaments is to really drag ourselves down to the bottom of the pit in terms of ethics.

4] East-West conflict argument

  • Another argument is that this is a conflict between the east and the west, and India should stay out of it.
  • To say that this is just another east-west conflict from which India should stay out is tantamount to seeing the Russian invasion and the brave defence of their country by the Ukrainians as a mere marital squabble.
  • India had refused in 1956 to condemn the Soviet invasion of Hungary, its action today is much worse.

Conclusion

India must take a long view of how it wants to engage with it. Its actions so far leave it in the company of Russia and China.

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