Even Friends Are Getting Upset
India and China have seemingly created a distance with Russia over the Ukraine War. Analysts are of the opinion that Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s recent meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, on the side-lines of the September 15-16 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit 2022 at Samarkand in Uzbekistan, gave such an indication. They believe that leaders of the world’s first and second populous countries hinted to take cautious steps, as far as their ties with Russia are concerned.
In Uzbekistan, Prime Minister Modi reportedly told the Russian President that it was not the time for war. Instead, food and energy security should be given priority during this emergency period, he said. Ahead of the SCO Summit, the Russian Strongman dismissed the possibility of a ceasefire in Ukraine. Rather, the Kremlin announced that it would increase the intensity of the attack. In such a situation, the Indian Prime Minister’s comments are believed to expose the loneliness of the Russian President at the global stage.
In fact, Putin’s loneliness was evident during his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi on the sidelines of the Samarkand Summit even before the former’s talks with Prime Minister Modi. In Samarkand, the Chinese President did not say a single word in favour of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Instead, he advocated for restoring Global peace and stability in the presence of President Putin.
The Indian Prime Minister has dialled the Russian President four times since the beginning of the Ukraine War. President Putin also sent his Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov to New Delhi in order to discuss the Ukraine crisis with the Indian political leadership. In Uzbekistan, Modi raised the issue yet again, telling President Putin that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue should be the way to resolve problems in the 21st Century world. Surprisingly, Putin accepted Modi’s concerns in a significant way. The Russian President further assured the Indian Prime Minister that he would end the conflict as soon as possible. It is to be noted that the former head of the Soviet-era spy agency KGB has never talked about peace since February 24, 2022.
India remained steadfast in balancing diplomatic ties with both Russia and Ukraine during the first few days of the Ukraine War. The Modi Government abstained from voting on several resolutions brought by the US and its Western allies against the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council. In March 2022, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN T S Tirumurti had said: “India is deeply concerned over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in war-torn Ukraine. We stand ready to continue to engage on these objectives in the Security Council, as well as with the Parties, in the coming days. We continue to underline the need to respect the UN Charter, international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.“
Later, India, due to public opinion and Western pressure, raised its voice against the Russian atrocities in Ukraine. Earlier, Justice Dalveer Bhandari, India’s Representative to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), opposed the motion brought by the West, demanding an end to the Russian military operations against Ukraine. Later in August, India voted in favour of a UNSC resolution, condemning the Russian attack on Ukraine. Experts in Foreign Relations are of the opinion that Prime Minister Modi’s message to President Putin in Samarkand may create distance between New Delhi and Moscow in the coming days.
Beijing’s policy towards Moscow, too, has changed a lot in the past six months. China has, so far, abstained from voting on every resolution against Russia at the UN. The Xi Jinping Administration directly opposed the US and Europe’s move to expel Russia from the G-20 in March over the Ukraine War. Beijing further condemned the financial sanctions imposed on Russia by the West. However, China’s focus has shifted from Ukraine since the recent Taiwan crisis. Unlike North Korea, China has refused to supply weapons to Russia in recent times. In Samarkand, President Xi did not talk about China-Russia friendship.
Incidentally, President Putin called for closer ties with India and China just 10 days before the SCO Summit. However, it is believed that President Putin’s plan received a huge blow in Samarkand, especially after his meetings with Prime Minister Modi and President Xi. Perhaps, that is why the Russian President talked about ceasing the conflict in a rare first in Samarkand. However, it is difficult to believe in his words, as the Russian Strongman can change his plan at any point of time.
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