India walks a tightrope between the US and Russia vis-à-vis Moscow-Kyiv War



Between a Rock and a Hard Place: India's Stance on the Russia–Ukraine  Crisis > Air University (AU) > Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs Article  Display

by Sudhanshu Tripathi         26 June 2023

The more than a year-long ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has created tough situations for India many times. And that has led to cause a crucial dilemma for India’s foreign policy, having a foundational pillar of non-alignment which is meant for the strategic autonomy of the country regarding independent decision-making on all international and global issues.

While united Russian Soviets as the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) that emerged after the second-World War had always extended the much needed due help to India on almost all international issues, except during the Sino-Indian war in 1962, along with the required military hardware and logistical support for its army and overall national security and that Moscow continues to provide to New Delhi still today, thereby characterizing the USSR and its successor Russia as a trusted friend of India, barring few exceptions during closing years of the 2010s, the US has all along been skeptical of India’s nonalignment policy ever since its inception after India’s independence in 1947.

Further, Washington had always been driving wedge between India and its distraught neighbours -particularly Pakistan and China – worried due to its consistent progress in all fields of human endeavor as a sovereign nation, with a view to seek the balance of power game, between India and China on the one hand and India and Pakistan on the other, in its favour, considering India as a protégé of the USSR and its nonalignment foreign policy as a camouflage to oppose Anglo-American imperialist and expansionist designs in all over the world.

This is why the US always weighed India only in terms of China as well as Pakistan until recently when it convincingly found that Pakistan continues to remain largely engaged into terror activities wherein the US’ financial and military assistance was misappropriated by the Pakistani Army and its secret agency ISI in addition to the political leaders in power and other hardliner mullahs. Also Pakistan’s secret nuclear bomb making and hiding Al-Qaeda’s now slain top leader Osama bin-Laden at Abbottabad in Pakistan made the US aghast due to possibility – however remote – of terrorists, having shelter in Pakistan, overtaking the political establishment as happened in Afghanistan around two years ago.

As obvious the US administration today found itself to be cheated at the hands of Pakistan and this realization has turned Washington towards New Delhi to consolidate its bilateral relations with India. Similarly in case of China too, the US now finds the communist giant all set to drastically change the hitherto established balance of power in Asia in its favour. Again China’s highly ambitious Silk Road strategy is also aimed at fulfilling its expansionist and commercial goals to finally jump the hierarchical ladder from regional hegemon to an unquestioned global hegemon status.

And not remaining content with its so-acquired regional hegemon status, Beijing is  working very hard in all directions to vigorously pursue its imperialist and expansionist policies as being witnessed in South China Sea, Taiwan, Indian Ocean region, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Far east, Africa and almost the entire Indo-Pacific region, with ever fast modernization of its army and rejuvenation of its economy having its ultimate goal of climbing up the international hierarchy to accomplish the global hegemon status by replacing the US.

It is of course very disturbing for the US as it does not want to lose the unique status that it continues to hold for the past two and half centuries when the Anglo-American resurgence eclipsed the  entire international and global affairs. It is in this context the emerging convergence amidst proliferating divergence of views being held by both India and the US on most of the present grave challenges as well as crises viz. mounting violence and global terrorism, cyber-crimes  and clandestine nuclear proliferation along with global economic recession and pollution of environment, there comes a ray of hope of an evolving new world order marked by the goals and ideals of India’s Foreign Policy and also that of the larger common interests of the global community of nations.

As obvious this ray of have has become more manifest as of now because the US’ Secretary of Defense, Mr. Lloyd J. Austin recently conferred with his Indian counterpart Mr. Rajnath Singh during early days of June 2023. Followed by the Indian PM’s ongoing visit to the US,  the process has got impetus wherein both President Biden and PM Modi have expressed concerns over rising undemocratic and illiberal trends in the world. And that assumes considerable significance amidst the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war because China along with North Korea and Iran is ostensibly supporting Moscow’s aggression over Kyiv as against the US led NATO powers largescale support to Ukraine.

Thus in the evolving imbroglio, India finds a tough situation as to how openly come out against its all seasons’ friend Russia. Though Russia’s mounting assaults have almost completely destroyed Ukraine today, but Western powers’ continuing help continues to bolster the Ukranian leadership to not relent before Russia and continue witnessing ever worse destruction and devastation in terms of precious human lives and property. In fact, this war has now turned into a war between NATO powers and Russia wherein the entire collateral damage is being accrued by Ukraine.

Hence India should design a fine balance between the US and Russia so that the stability, peace and progress of not only India or the US or Russia or Ukraine may be accomplished but that of the whole world may be ensured. And for that India must ask for immediate cessation of hostilities as the progenitor of the doctrine of Nonalignment and also being the founder member of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), enjoying considerable clout and influence into the international community of nations.

Further, India must make efforts with the help of like-minded countries viz. Australia, Japan, South Korea etc. to raise this Russian-Ukraine war issue in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and must recall for Uniting for Peace Resolution (UPR), which was earlier invoked by the UNGA during the early 1950s to resolve the Korean crisis

Thus the current situation in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war continues to be particularly worrisome and grave as Russia continues to threaten the western powers to exercise its nuclear option if they continue providing military and other logistical support to Kyiv. Hence in the ever degenerating grim scenario where no end to the continuing war looks in sight, the world today stands on a nuclear volcano which may blast any day with the slightest spark set on fire by any nuclear power.

That may inevitably lead into worldwide chain reactions of nuclear explosions to result into unimaginable and irreparable holocaust to foresee. In this scenario, the role of United Nations and global movements like Non-aligned Movement can prove to be meaningful and decisive to resolve the intricate challenge before the global humanity amicably.