Delhi’s Kyiv Calculations – on India-Ukraine relations

Source– The post is based on the article “Delhi’s Kyiv Calculations” published in “The Times of India” on 10th July 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Bilateral groupings and agreements

Relevance: India and Ukraine bilateral relationship

News- India’s MEA secretary (west) Sanjay Verma’s upcoming visit to Kyiv could potentially mark a turning point in Indo-Ukrainian ties.

What are the issues with India and Ukraine bilateral relationship?

Historically, the relations between India and Ukraine are based on the premise that Ukraine is a satellite of Russia. There were no efforts to innovate, rethink and revisit.

Whereas, Ukrainians feel that India has not done enough to stop Russian aggression. Today, Ukrainians use phrases like “India does not care” for India’s response towards Russia’s war against Ukraine.

There is a lack of high-level political visits. Ukraine hosted Indian Presidents in 1993 and 2005. But the only time the PM of India Indira Gandhi visited was in 1982, when Ukraine was a part of the USSR.

What has been India’s position on the Ukraine war?

PM Narendra Modi stated publicly in the presence of President Vladimir Putin, “this is not an era of war” at the SCO Summit in Samarkand. India also reiterated its support for territorial integrity, sovereignty and commitment to the UN Charter by member states.

However, India did not condemn Russian aggression openly.

What are potential bilateral relationships between India and Ukraine?

Policymakers in India realise the urgent need to overhaul India’s policy towards Ukraine. In this context, this visit will rekindle hope.

India was present at a summit on Ukraine in Copenhagen. This was the first ever presence of non-Western states like India, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and South Africa in such a format.

This summit is an established platform with almost 50 countries, based on the 10-point Peace Plan of the Ukrainian President.

The war has brought out the post-colonial identity of modern Ukraine. It shows the similarity with the nations in the southern hemisphere.

Ukraine is no longer a problem of Europe alone. So, India’s involvement is important to protect its national interest as a global player.

What are the challenges in Indian foreign policy approach towards Russia?

It is difficult to reshape India-Russia relations and remove the legacy of the Soviet era.

Russian strategists fully understand India’s strategic necessity to be closer to the US and the West, but it also expects that India holds no open objection to its closeness to China.

Countries of the Global South are becoming aware that Russia’s policies towards countries of the former Soviet Union are based on hegemony and sphere of influence. Russia is ignoring agency and representation of these countries.

After more than 30 years of sovereign Ukraine’s existence, Russia is apprehensive of India’s independent policies towards it.

What is the way forward for India and Ukraine bilateral relationship?

There is a need to widen people-to-people contacts and academic exchanges.

The war against Ukraine is an opportunity for India to get rid of its post-Soviet inertia and start afresh. India is expected to understand Ukraine from this standpoint.

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