On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy telephoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought India’s support for the implementation of the peace plan, and wished for a successful India’s G20 presidency, which is ongoing. He also thanked Prime Minister Modi for humanitarian aid. In reply, Modi pressed Zelenskyy for a ceasefire and asked him for discussions and dialogue with Russia. Three months ago, at the Samarkand summit, Modi told Putin: “It’s not the era of war.” It got a lot of attention in western media and political circles. He also expressed firm conviction to both leaders that “There cannot be a military solution for a conflict and conveyed readiness to any peace efforts.”
India has adopted father of nation Mahatma Gandhi’s words: “There is no path to Peace, Peace is the Path.” With 1.4 billion people as the largest democracy in the world and with USD 3.5 trillion GDP as 5th largest economy, India’s moves will always have special attention in the world.
During the cold war era, though India maintained good relations with the USSR, but India never opted to join any of the two camps i.e., the USA or the USSR. India has played its role in the world wherever peace is needed. India shaped the UN by providing a peacekeeping force, and it is one of the most vocal advocates for Peace. India has a long history in peacekeeping in the world. Since 1948, India has contributed more than 2,53,000 personnel to the United Nations peacekeeping operations (UNPKO), which is the largest contribution for any other country in the world. Indian peacekeeping forces have served in 49 of the 71 UNPK operations, and currently, Indian forces are deployed in 8 operations out of 13 active peacekeeping operations. Currently, more than 5500 Indian personnel are serving peacekeeping operations, which is the fifth largest contributor to the peace mission by UNO. India’s contribution to the UNPK started in the 1950 Korean War, where India’s mediatory role led to the armistice to end the Korean War. The UN entrusted the Indian armed forces with subsequent peacekeeping missions in Africa, the Middle East, and Cyprus. India was the first country to send an all-women personnel group to restore peace in Liberia through UNPKO in 2007. These women officers not only played a significant role in restoring peace in West African countries and also contributed to increasing the number of women officers in the Liberian army and police sector.
Apart from that, most of the western countries are criticizing India for buying crude oil from Russia when Western and G7 countries are sanctioning Russia and restricting themselves from purchasing oil from Russia. India’s oil imports from Russia steadily increased from February. Russia has emerged as the largest oil supplier to India for the continuous second month. Russian oil accounted for 23% of India’s total imports. As the European Union imposed a ban on Russia’s oil, Russia may find a larger space in the Asian market. Indian oil imports from Russia are motivated by economics rather than politics. India has no political interest in the Ukraine war, and western countries are interested in converting Ukraine’s war into an end game for Moscow and Putin.
Because of the west’s political interest, they have taken down Ukraine’s per capita. Now Ukraine’s per capita is just above India’s per capita. As a developing country and with adverse effects of Covid-19, the Indian government has more interest in its civilian society, which is the first priority for any government. In fact, India has no other option than purchasing oil from Russia as other sectors like fertilizers production and food supply are uncertain due to the war and Covid-19. Especially developing countries, poor countries, and the Global South are affected with the ongoing war by increasing inflation, supply chain disruption, food insecurity, and elevation of financial instability risks. The G7 countries, which are leading economies in the world, have adopted the $60 price cap on Russian oil to limit Russia’s ability to invest in Ukraine’s war. This price cap would help in forcing down the prices, and it would lead to more oil imports from Russia to India, China, and other Asian countries. Because of India’s continuous efforts, last week Putin commented that he wants to end the war. Before that, when Putin announced Ukraine’s invasion in February of this year. Everyone thought that Russia might invade Ukraine in weeks. Russia also fervently believed that it would invade Ukraine and win quickly. But Russia took months to capture some parts of Ukraine; the Russian army gained ground in the south and east Ukraine, including Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhya. Even after months, Russia failed to gain Kyiv. When Putin announced the invasion in February, he might have thought that Europe and the US may not interfere or give support to Ukraine.
Though the US and Europe were not involved in the war directly, they have extended their support to Ukraine to counter Russia by providing financial support and arms supply. Result of that, Russia failed to hold the gained portions of Ukraine. Ukraine succeeded in the counter-offensive by taking back Kherson and Kupyansk, Lyman. As western countries are sanctioning Russia, it’s facing a financial crunch for the invasion of Ukraine. Result of that, the Ukraine war is uncertain for Russia. Now, Putin is looking for an honorable exit, which Ukraine and the West are denying. At the same time, Putin cannot afford an indefinite war and is facing many problems in his country. So far, Putin may not have won the war, but his army sunk Ukraine’s economy.
Last week Zelenskyy visited the US and addressed lawmakers of the US. President Joe Biden has pledged $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine. He also offered advanced missile systems to guard against Russian attacks. Another $45 billion of emergency assistance to Ukraine is before the US senate for approval. Some Republicans are unhappy about Biden’s aid to Ukraine as US money is going out. The US and Europe should also insist on Ukraine ceasing the war. As India is holding the G20 presidency this year, many group countries have different opinions on the war. But everyone wants a peaceful resolution as the war adversely impacts the global economy. This year, the global economy witnessed adverse effects because of Covid-19 and the ongoing war. World countries are not ready to deteriorate the economic crisis. Now, It is the time for India to force both sides to cease the war and encourage them for the negotiations and discussion. Venkatakrishna Rao. K is a Research Scholar at IIT Varanasi.