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India’s balancing act on Russia-Ukraine and the EU

Will India’s strategy of bolstering ties with the EU to ward off China while maintaining close relations with Russia work?

It has been almost two weeks since Russia began its assault on Ukraine, killing hundreds of people and displacing more than 2 million.

Read India Wheat Exports Surge Amid Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Besides generating a humanitarian crisis and sending shockwaves around the world, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine have also put the foreign policies of the countries in the spotlight.

While some countries, such as Germany, have completely shifted their defence and energy policies to reprimand Russia and secure the European borders, others like India continue to maintain a relatively restrictive stance towards old friend Russia.

But after the Russian invasion hit India closer to home, with the killing of an Indian student in Ukraine’s Kharkiv city, and hundreds of Indian students still awaiting evacuation, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under pressure to condemn Russia’s actions.

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Last week, P Chidambaram, an Indian parliamentarian from the opposition Congress party, tweeted: “India’s Government should stop its verbal balancing act and sternly demand that Russia stop immediately the bombing of key cities in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Modi has held talks with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and called for an immediate cessation of violence.

Yet, on the international stage, India has abstained five times so far from condemning Russia’s actions at the United Nations and only reiterated a “commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, to international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states”.

India’s balancing act of appeasing both Russia and the West in the Ukraine crisis has caught the European Union off-guard.

According to Indian media reports last week, EU envoys together with Ukraine’s envoy to New Delhi met senior Indian foreign ministry officials before a landmark vote in the UN General Assembly and urged India to adopt a stronger position on the conflict.

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French President Emmanuel Macron also held consultations with Modi on the matter. France currently holds the presidency of the Council of the EU and a proactive Macron has been holding regular talks with EU leaders and international leaders to de-escalate the crisis.

What India’s position on Russia-Ukraine war means for its EU ties  Al Jazeera English

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