The position of India as one of the world’s emerging powers and strong regional player is unjustly dismissed on a number of issues of global importance – including Russia’s war against Ukraine. Like with China, there is a certain level of ambiguity regarding Indian stance on the conflict – although New Delhi has been less supportive of Moscow overall than Beijing. Nevertheless, India has officially taken a neutral position. What does it mean and what are the key drivers behind it?
The first factor is economy with particular emphasis on oil and gas as resources generating the greatest revenue for Russia and keeping the regime afloat, funding its war machine. India is one of the key buyers of Russian energy, a fact that Russian propaganda has turned into a demonstration of alliance and support. The reality, however, is very different and more complicated. It is also framed by the looming food crisis, which India is actively preparing for – with the population of 1.4 billion people, India has already banned wheat exports from the country, further driving up the prices on global market.
Moreover, given tense relations with China, India is heavily dependent on Russian weapons: 85% of all military equipment in India is either purchased from Russia or originated from the Soviet Union, which also puts New Delhi in a precarious position.
India calls for the war to be settled through diplomacy and has abstained from some of the recent votes in the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly regarding Russian war. On the other hand, it also underlines the fact that territorial integrity of all UN members, including Ukraine, has to be respected and global balance of arms must be maintained – a balance that is severely threatened by Russian aggression.
There is a profound lack of expertise on Ukraine in India, where it has not been present on the agenda, which leaves room for Russian and pro-Russian disinformation. In particular, India was a number 1 source of pro-Russian publications on Twitter amidst the war in what is suspected to be a coordinated campaign.
Find out more about how these factors influence the perception of war in India and shape its political position on the matter – see Ukraine In Flames #102.
- Nataliya Butyrska, Asia-focused expert on international relations
- Vitalii Portnikov, journalist, publicist
- Olexiy Haran, Professor of NaUKMA, Research Director of Democratic Initiatives Foundation.
UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Ukrainian Catholic University’s analitical center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”. We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.
If you want to support Ukraine against Russian aggression, check the link with recommendations by Ukraine Crisis Media Center – https://uacrisis.org/en/help-ukraine.
NGO Euroatlantic Course collects donations to support Ukrainian Army and civilians – https://eac.org.ua/en/main-page/.