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Strange bedfellows: India, Russia, Australia and China

Many of us Indian-Australians have been asked in recent weeks: what’s with India on Ukraine?

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There’s a question many Indian-Australians are being asked at the moment: why is India not condemning Russia for its invasion of an independent country, Ukraine?

With extensive media coverage of this aggression, including footage of peaceful neighbourhoods bombed and the sufferings of the Ukrainian people, why has India not joined most of the world in calling Russia out on its actions?

Do you not feel for the victims of this Russian-led bloodshed, we’re asked.

The answer is not that simple.

Most Indian-Australians do feel that this war is unjust, and no country has the right to invade a sovereign nation and put its people through the horrors of war.

But they’ve had to accept that nations will march to the tune of their own foreign policies and agendas and will take a more pragmatic approach to their international relations.

Russia and India have a long history of supporting each other on the global arena. Russia has backed India often in the United Nations on issues such as Kashmir, and India’s push to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Russia is also a source of cheap oil which a developing country like India needs for its burgeoning economy and growing middle class. It also supplies India with arms and other necessary technologies for its growing military needs, the need for which will only increase with a belligerent neighbour as China. The India-Russia relationship is steeped in history, having grown post Indian independence.

READ MORE: Ukraine crisis: Why politics and humanity must remain separate

modi and putin
Source: Presidential Press and Information Office / Wikimedia Commons

On the current issue of Ukraine, India will likely continue to sit on the sidelines and may make attempts to be a peacemaker. One does doubt, though, that Russia wants peace. Harsh sanctions against Russia will continue, with flow-on effects of higher fuel and gas prices to Europe and the rest of the world. This will only lead to more polarity between the nations – with Russia, China, North Korea and Iran on one side, and the US-led nations on the other.

India has made its position clear from the very outset, as has China. It is to India’s credit that the vitriol against their stand has been surprisingly negligible. The Australian government is still pursuing its trade enhancement opportunities with India, looking to capitalise on India’s economic potential. And discussions continue at Quad meetings between India, US, Japan and Australia against the threats of an expansionist China (who, interestingly, is on the same side as India in its support of Russia.)

By all accords, Australia should be reading the riot act to India for its pro-Moscow stance and as global citizens, many of us continue to feel strongly about India’s inaction on this issue. But as said earlier, due to much larger geopolitical implications, it is something we will have to wrestle with when there are emerging economic and diplomatic opportunities for a fast-growing nation to benefit from.

READ MORE: Ukraine as a ‘borderland’: a brief history of Ukraine’s place between Europe and Russia

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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