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June 14, 2024
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Russia-Ukraine war: why India abstained on UN vote against Russia, envoy quotes PM Modi

Russia-Ukraine war: On the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution regarding the restoration of peace in Ukraine. It was said in the proposal that by ending the war in Ukraine with Russia, withdraw its forces.

According to the report, India and China did not participate in the voting process on this proposal.

However, During the vote in the 193-member UNGA, 141 member nations voted in favour of the resolution. While 7 opposed the resolution, 32 members. including India and China, abstained.

India has largely abstained from voting against Russia in the resolutions introduced at the UNGA, while advocating for peace through diplomatic channels.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Today this war is completing one year.

During this, the United Nations General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council, repeatedly condemned the attack and underlined Ukraine’s commitment to sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity.

India has earlier distanced itself from several resolutions brought on the Ukraine-Russia war. India repeatedly emphasizes that the UN Charter, international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states must be respected.

“India remains steadfastly committed to multilateralism and upholds the principles of the UN Charter. We will always call for dialogue and diplomacy as the only viable way out. While we take note of the stated objective of today’s Resolution, given its inherent limitations in reaching our desired goal of securing a lasting peace, we are constrained to abstain,” Kamboj said.

Quoting Modi’s statement, she said, “We have consistently advocated that no solution can ever arrive at the cost of human lives. In this context, our Prime Minister’s statement that this cannot be an era of war bears reiteration. Escalation of hostilities and violence is in no one’s interest, instead, an urgent return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy is the way forward.”

Why India abstained on UN vote?

As Russia invaded Ukraine, India’s immediate concern was the safety of the approximately 20,000 Indian students in Ukraine. This issue presented both political risk and opportunity. India has a long and commendable record of evacuating its citizens, and those of other countries.

While successful evacuations play well both domestically and internationally, the potential for disaster here was readily apparent, and that would have played badly at a time when India was undergoing a series of state elections. Given the need for support in evacuating Indian nationals, abstaining was its best bet to avoid offending either side. 

History also plays a part. The Soviet Union used its veto on several occasions to protect India against various resolutions brought by the West regarding Kashmir, India’s invasion of Goa and the 1971 war with Pakistan which led to the creation of Bangladesh. In turn, India abstained on votes condemning the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and of Afghanistan a decade later. In the 21st century, it actually voted against condemning Russian actions in Chechnya and Abkhazia. Behind this lies India’s long-standing position against Western imperialism – though admittedly, to be consistent it should equally oppose Russian imperialism.  

Relatedly, Russian alignment with India has historically balanced China’s deep relationship with Pakistan. But in recent years, Russia and Pakistan have started to move closer. Pakistan’s president, Imran Khan, was visiting Moscow on the day Russia invaded Ukraine. This leads to India’s nightmare scenario whereby Russia flips its South Asia ally (potentially under Chinese pressure) and India faces an alternative alignment of Russia, China and Pakistan, and potentially Iran. This would put India in a deeply precarious position with regards to both arms and fuel. 

While there has been speculation that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could potentially set a precedent for Chinese action against Taiwan, China also has claims on Indian territory, notably the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, but also along the Line of Actual Control that separates the two countries. In addition, although the Kashmir dispute involves primarily India and Pakistan, China also controls a part of the former princely state.

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