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A Diplomatic Tightrope Walk

Eventually, Indian diplomacy has tasted success under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Otherwise, the dominance of politics has side-lined the economy, as well as diplomacy, during his regime. Initially, the Modi Administration made a mistake by assessing the international relations on the basis of domestic political equation. However, India has made some wise diplomatic moves during the Russia-Ukraine War, and those moves have influenced the recently held 2+2 meeting between India and the US.

Although the US and its Western Allies strongly criticised Russia for launching military operations in neighbouring Ukraine on February 24 (2022) and also imposed economic sanctions on the Kremlin, India did not take any such action against Moscow. New Delhi urged both Russia and Ukraine to resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations, saying that war could not bring any permanent solution. The Indian officials expressed the same view at the UN. With this, the South Asian nation has made it clear that the position of a State-actor in global geopolitics depends on its own demands and power equations. India has, therefore, become increasingly relevant in the world of diplomacy at the trying times.

One can easily understand the diplomatic success of India by noticing New Delhi’s interactions with both the Kremlin and Washington DC in recent times. The US put India under tremendous diplomatic pressure soon after Russia attacked Ukraine. However, the Modi Administration remained unperturbed, and refused to snap trade ties with Russia. Still, US President Joe Biden offered to help reduce India’s dependence on Russia in the defence sector, and also praised PM Modi for sending humanitarian aid to war-ravaged Ukraine. On the other hand, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov praised India’s neutral foreign policy even after Prime Minister Modi expressed serious concern over the Bucha massacre. It is not difficult to understand the reason for both sides’ love for India. Since February 24, India has talked only about the sufferings of the people in the war, without getting involved in the blame game. There was no need to do that, and India has attracted global attention by playing its role in a proper manner.

Most importantly, it was not an easy task. As far as armaments for defence are concerned, India is heavily dependent on Russia. Hence, it was not possible for India to openly criticise Russia, and trigger a fresh tension with Russia and (its friend) China. In spite of that, India has managed to take a firm stand on the Ukraine issue, internationally. As expected, the diplomatic community has showered praises on India, and started relying on Indian foreign policy.

PM Modi with his British counterpart Boris Johnson

Now, the question arises here: Is it possible for India to make an overall correction in its foreign policy by making such calculative moves? In recent years, China has strengthened its ties with India’s neighbours, such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives. Experts are of the opinion that India needs to take bolder steps, keeping in mind the way New Delhi’s sphere of influence has eroded in South Asia. This is quite possible if India manages to maintain the diplomatic skills it has showcased during the Russia-Ukraine War. The essence of diplomacy is to maintain ties with other countries in order to ensure its own benefits, and more than often, common sense helps win diplomatic challenges.

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