As Russia pursues its brutal invasion of Ukraine, the world has watched in horror as death tolls continue to rise and cities across the country suffer devastation from cluster bombs and bombardment by Russian forces. Leaders around the world have stepped forward to condemn Russia’s actions, 39 of which have referred Russia to the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, as well as imposing severe economic sanctions on the country.
A number of countries have been acting to suspend business and services with Russia since the invasion began, in a bid to deter it from continuing.
US president Joe Biden recently announced a ban on all imports of Russian gas and oil in the US, while the UK plans to phase out imports by the end of 2022.
Germany even shifted its foreign policy completely to reprimand Russia and secure the European borders.
India, however, has sustained a particularly restrictive and cautious stance towards the crisis.
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Why is India supporting Russia?
Throughout the Cold War, India and the Soviet Union built up a strong strategic, military, economic, and diplomatic relationship.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited this close relationship with India, termed as a “special and privileged strategic partnership”.
The special relationship has been built on five major components so far: politics, defence, civil nuclear energy, anti-terrorism co-operation, and space.
However, a new component to be taken into account will be the economy, as the countries have set a target of reaching $30 billion in bilateral trade by 2025.
Michael Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Centre in Washington, DC, told news outlet Al-Jazeera: “New Delhi has long viewed Moscow as its most reliable and trusted partner, a perception shaped by many decades of friendship, going back to the early years of the Cold War,”
“Indian leaders often speak of Russia as India’s closest and most reliable friend, a country that has never had any sort of crisis with India.
“They see it as a country always willing to help India out on the global stage, including at the UN, where Russia’s voting patterns on issues like Kashmir have supported India.”
Although, pressure is certainly mounting for the country to speak out as Indian citizens are now directly suffering at the hands of Russia.
One Indian medical student recently died in shelling in Kharkiv, and hundreds more Indian students currently await evacuation from the city.
Palaniappan Chidambaram, an Indian parliamentarian from the opposition Congress party, tweeted: “The Government of India should stop its verbal balancing act and sternly demand that Russia stop immediately the bombing of key cities in Ukraine.”