Ukraine War: India's tightrope

Vhrithee Senthil Kumar Nalina
September 5, 2023

Ukraine Case Study: The War, One Year On

MYP4 Current Affairs

Ukraine War, One Year On: India’s Tightrope 

Ukraine and Russia have been long standing allies for India. With the war going on, India could provide the mediation the world so badly needs, without having to pick sides.

One year has passed with the Ukrainian war and many countries have made their stance in the war clear, though there are countries that are still either maintaining neutrality or are still indecisive about their position in the war. Especially south Asian countries are still staying neutral with this crisis since they are either in need of something from both of the sides/countries or are under immense pressure from all the parts of the world for staying neutral and putting their population’s need before the war. This has caused most of the world to project countries like India with the label of supporting Russia and being selfish by buying oil from Russia and for not condemning the Russian government. 

As per context, Russia and Ukraine have had border tensions for many decades before the 2014 annexation of Crimea. After this event took place, tensions and conflict increased, becoming one of the direct causes to the ongoing Ukraine war. The invasion began the morning of 24 February last year, upon Russian president Vladimir Putin's announcement of a "special military operation" seeking the "demilitarization" and "denazification" of Ukraine.

India has been under pressure for many months or even from the moment that the war started to escalate to aerial bombing, to condemn Russia due to the fact that India is one of the countries that has the closest and time-tested political ties with Russia. Due to this, Europe and America are constantly urging India to be a ‘mediator’ for the west and have India to talk to Russia and solve the war. Even though this sounds reasonable, India would be at a tough spot since China would see this as a politically provoking move since India and China already have their own border dispute. Openly supporting Russia would also be the most unwise move since India would lose all of the allies that they have forged over all these decades and would not have any aid from other countries if they face problems as such of their own. 

The main thing that India is accused of is buying higher amounts of Russian oil and gas while Europe is trying to cut ties with Russian gas. According to the Indian external affairs minister, S Jaishankar, India is not trying to support Russia but rather is buying the cheapest oil that can keep the country in gas and oil security. He also states that oil consumption from Russia should be focused on Europe rather than India since and I quote: “Looking at figures, I suspect, our purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon”. 

Other than accusations and mediatorship, India is one of the hardly hit countries by the war directly and indirectly. The main aspect that India is really affected in by the war is the economic sector. Due to increase in gas prices (because of sanctions posed on Russia), there was a ripple effect throughout the economy even in sectors such as textile, food, agriculture and auto manufacturing. This has caused more internal problems in India, making it harder for the Government to focus on mediating truce in this war.

India’s position is nothing near in the circumstance to mediate or hold talks with Russia. In the same way, India (as Jaishankar states) does not buy oil from Russia to maintain military and political ties, but rather to buy the best and cheapest oil in the market. Also doing the west’s bidding, would provoke China, making them think that India is using Russian and Western allies to target China. Overall, India would be or already is walking the tightrope between maintaining all of the allies that they forged over these decades, while projecting their opinions and stances.  

Vhrithee Senthil Kumar Nalina

Vrithee is an MYP4 student at Bogaerts International School

May 9, 2023

Vhrithee Senthil Kumar Nalina

Bogaerts International School