India’s Ukraine dilemma

News: As Russian pressure increases over Ukraine, it is time that India changes its perspective towards central Europe.

Read here: Explained: What are India’s stakes in its ties with Ukraine and Russia?

What is the issue?

Russia has raised the tensions over Ukraine and set his demands of security guarantee from NATO. India has largely remained silent over the issue. This opens the doors for European accusations of diplomatic duplicity.

Read here: Ukraine Crisis and India: On Kyiv, Sit On The Fence

What are other examples of such accusations against India?

India did not speak against Russia in 1956 at the Soviet invasion of Hungary, while India denounced the Anglo-French attempt to seize the Suez Canal. Similar Indian is silenced over the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 to crush Prague Spring, while India criticized the US invasion of Vietnam.

Even now, India criticizes Chinese aggression but is silent about Russian actions in Ukraine.

Why Central Europe must not be viewed only as the US and Russia’s sphere of influence? 

First, there are no takers for a broad sphere of Russian influence in Central Europe. Neither former Warsaw members nor Baltic or ex-Soviet states.

Second, Russian security concerns are legitimate, but they can best be addressed through political accommodation.

Third, few central European countries buy into the French argument of European sovereignty and strategic autonomy. They are more inclined towards the US-led NATO as a security guarantor.

Fourth, though these countries are keen on the US and EU security umbrella, they are not keen to adopt political values antithetical to their traditional values.

Fifth, central European countries are also working to develop regional institutions like Visegrád Four – Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia and other institutions like the “Three seas initiative”.

Thus, any of India’s approaches must not be influenced by the views of NATO or Russia. It should lead to an independent appreciation of the geopolitics of Central Europe.

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s Ukraine dilemma” published in Indian Express on 22nd February 2022.

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