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India refuses to endorse joint communique favouring Ukraine: How India has been advocating for dialogue and diplomacy rather than one-sided bullying

Since the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2022, India has consistently advocated for peaceful dialogue and a diplomatic resolution. India's approach reflects its commitment to maintaining strategic autonomy and balancing its relations with both the West and Russia.

On the 16th of June, India rejected to endorse a joint communique at the Summit on peace in Ukraine held in Switzerland, which said that any peace agreement should be based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity. India while refusing to endorse the “Joint Communique on a Peace Framework” said that “only those options acceptable to both parties can lead to abiding peace.” It must be noted here, that while Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy addressed the Summit on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was not even invited.

Other than India, some BRICS members, including South Africa, Brazil, and the UAE, did not endorse the communique, which was signed by 83 out of 100 participants. Moreover, other countries who refused to sign the communiqué included Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Bahrain, Colombia, Libya, Suriname, Indonesia, and Mexico.

At the summit, India was represented by a secretary-level official and the country did not consider participation at the ministerial level keeping in view, the attempts by the West to keep Russia out.

Notably, India was represented by Pavan Kapoor, MEA Secretary (West). In a statement from Switzerland, he stated that India would only be included in the joint statement if it was brought up without the participation of both parties to the conflict.

“In our view, only those solutions acceptable to both parties can lead to abiding peace. In line with this approach, we have decided to avoid association with the joint communique or any other document emerging from this summit,” Kapoor said.

“We continue to believe that such a peace requires bringing together all stakeholders and a sincere and practical engagement between the two parties to the conflict. Accordingly, we will continue to engage with all stakeholders as well as two parties to the conflict to contribute to all earnest efforts to achieve lasting peace in Ukraine. Our participation in the summit and continued engagement with all stakeholders is with the view of understanding different perspectives, approaches, and options to find a sustainable way forward for a sustainable resolution of the conflict,” Kapoor added.

India also reiterated its approach that the Ukraine-Russia conflict should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. “India’s participation in the Summit, as well as in the preceding NSA/Political Director-level meetings based on Ukraine’s Peace Formula, was in line with our consistent approach to facilitate a lasting and peaceful resolution to the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy. We continue to believe that such a resolution requires a sincere and practical engagement between the two parties to the conflict. In this regard, India will continue to remain engaged with all stakeholders as well as both the parties to contribute to all earnest efforts to bring about an early and abiding peace,” the MEA in its official statement said.

The Western leaders who attended the Summit included US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. China, although invited, declined to attend the Summit.

What the Joint Communique on a Peace Framework said

It is rather ironic that 80+ countries adopted a joint communique for lasting peace in Ukraine without inviting the other party in the conflict—Russia—to the Summit. It seemed like the only agenda of this communique was to build a consensus that peace in Ukraine must not be at the expense of territorial integrity. The communique appeared to be a bid to bolster Ukraine’s position and garner global support rather than an end to the ongoing conflict.

Since the beginning, the summit aimed to address three areas: Nuclear safety, especially at Russia’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, humanitarian assistance and the exchange of prisoners of war (PoWs), and global food security, which has been interrupted by food exports from Ukraine due to the conflict.

“We reaffirm our commitment to refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine, within their internationally recognised borders, including territorial waters, and the resolution of disputes through peaceful means as principles of international law,” the communique stated.

Notably, India has consistently abstained from all resolutions at the UNSC, UNGA International Atomic Energy Agency and Human Rights Council etc so far that appeared to be biased in approach towards addressing the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Dialogue and diplomacy the only way to attain peace: How India has been calling for dialogues and peace efforts rather than one-sided bullying

Since the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2022, India has consistently advocated for peaceful dialogue and a diplomatic resolution. India’s approach reflects its commitment to maintaining strategic autonomy and balancing its relations with both the West and Russia.

India has constantly emphasised the importance of reaching an amicable resolution through dialogue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian External Affairs Ministry have advocated for de-escalation and a return to the negotiation table. India has taken a balanced approach, abstaining from publicly denouncing Russia or openly backing Ukraine. This balanced approach seeks to create an environment conducive to dialogue while avoiding alienating either party.

Unlike the West, which appears to be more concerned with isolating and confronting Russia, India’s calls for peace are generally framed in the broader perspective of maintaining global stability and averting new humanitarian crises.

India dealt effectively with Western pressure to align more closely with Ukraine. By emphasising strategic autonomy, India has asserted its right to make independent foreign policy decisions.

Notably, India has faced economic pressure from the West, particularly regarding sanctions on Russia. However, India has continued to conduct economic transactions with Russia, including Russian seaborne crude oil, citing the need to safeguard its energy interests and economic stability. India has reduced the impact of Western economic coercion by diversifying its energy sources and exploring alternate payment systems to circumvent the impact of the West’s sanctions on Russia.

India has taken a neutral stance, abstaining from openly criticising Russia or unilaterally supporting Ukraine, and has urged both parties to de-escalate tensions and hold direct negotiations. This neutrality aims to create an environment conducive to meaningful discourse.

Time and again, India has asked that all stakeholders, including regional powers and international organisations, participate in negotiations to secure a comprehensive and long-term peace. Indian representatives at all major forums, including the United Nations, BRICS, ASEAN, and the G20, have advocated for amicable dispute resolution rather than simply condemning one party while defending the other.

While India and Russia share strong bilateral ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has never shied away from advising the Russian President on the significance of resolving the dispute with Ukraine through dialogue and diplomacy instead of a violent offensive. Back in September 2022, PM Modi told Putin that “this is not an era of war” during a bilateral meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Summit in Uzbekistan.

PM Modi and Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO summit 2022

During the BRICS Summit in 2022, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar reiterated the importance of peaceful dialogue and negotiation among the conflicting parties.

In June 2023, PM Modi reiterated his call for dialogue and diplomacy on the situation in Ukraine over a telephonic conversation today with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the G7 Summit last year, Prime Minister Modi again called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, urging the global community to support dialogue and diplomacy efforts between Russia and Ukraine. PM Modi called the Ukraine-Russia conflict an “issue of humanity”.

In March this year, PM Modi made separate phone calls to Putin and Zelenskyy and reiterated that “diplomacy and dialogue is the way forward in resolving the conflict between the two countries. PM Modi also made it clear that India would back any steps for the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

A CNN report citing two senior US administration officials said that outreach from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other countries played an important role in averting a potential nuclear strike by Russia against Ukraine’s Kyiv.

India has used its position in international organizations, such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) during its non-permanent membership, to advocate for dialogue and caution against escalation. At prominent forums like the G20 and BRICS, India has consistently pushed for a collective call for peace, leveraging its influence to bring attention to the need for diplomatic solutions to conflicts.

India’s consistent calls for peaceful dialogue between Russia and Ukraine reflect its commitment to mature diplomacy and a balanced foreign policy. By advocating for negotiations and emphasising the humanitarian and global economic impacts of the conflict, India aims to contribute to a peaceful and stable international order and not become a puppet of the West and blindly supporting its distorted sense of peace and stability.

On multiple occasions, India has underscored its commitment to peace and stability while defending its right to maintain balanced relations. India’s balanced stance has bolstered its image as a responsible global player committed to peace and stability. Its balanced approach has won the respect of both the West and Russia, enhancing its diplomatic clout. Moreover, India’s emphasis on dialogue and negotiation aligns with its broader vision of a multipolar world, where diverse voices contribute to global governance. India, under the Modi government, has been avoiding entanglement in bloc politics and effectively maintaining ties with all major powers to uphold its national interests.

Most importantly, India’s independent stance resonates with many countries in the Global South, who often face similar pressures from major powers. India’s approach serves as a model for balancing great power influences while maintaining sovereignty.

Notably, India’s strategic and economic ties with Russia, including defence cooperation and energy partnerships, are crucial and one-sided approach could jeopardise these relations and India’s security interests.

By rejecting one-sided bullying and calling for inclusive negotiations, India aims to contribute to a fair and lasting resolution. This approach not only aligns with India’s national interests but also reinforces its role as a stabilising force in global politics.

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