Russia has always been important to India. So is the United States and as is Ukraine. No wonder that India has often found itself navigating, both tricky and complex diplomatic balance among the three nations. Last December, during President Vladimir Putin's visit during 21st annual India-Russia summit, there were far too many elephants in the room and diplomatic knots that needed to be untied. For India, Russia-China relationship has been a cause for concern, while for Russia, it's the Indo-US ties that has the same effect.
Russia-Ukraine border conflict
But Moscow has often found itself explaining and having to defend its equation with Ukraine. The tension between the two nations' borders have been a source of security threat to the entire region. Ukraine says that Russia has positioned around 90,000 troops at the border, while US intelligence reports say that Russian can invade Ukraine anytime. US claims are backed by the fact that in 2014 Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine through military action.
Russia disapproves of a few India reports
Recently, the Russian Embassy in India issued a lengthy statement regarding recent news reports by Indian media on Ukraine. However, since the embassy did not specify the publications, it is still unclear as to which reports these may be. It claims that the reports, "attempted to impose the distorted picture."
The Russian Embassy on its official Twitter handle expressed its displeasure and disapproval of the said reports. "With deep regret we noted that some Indian media have once again attempted to impose the distorted picture on the situation around the internal Ukrainian crisis and to turn upside down Russia's approaches on the matter, including by disseminating outrageous statements by the Ukraine's officials. We do understand that those biased materials have nothing to do with the official stance of the Indian government and do not meet opinion of serious well-reputed experts. Together with that we consider it important to clarify the following."
We do not threaten anyone: Russian Embassy
The statement begins by stating that Russia does not believe in bullying. "It should be clearly understood that Russia does not threaten anyone. We are showing maximum restraint and, of course, have no intention to fight fraternal Ukrainian people, as well as to promote any military solution. It was repeatedly stressed by the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov." While absolving itself of all allegations, the statement further shifts the blame on Ukranian leadership and government. "By trying to convince international community, including the Indian audience, in the opposite, the Kiev's regime is simply blame shifting, seeking to veil its own crimes multiplied by inability to exercise a balanced and inclusive domestic and foreign policy."
There's no issue of Crimea: Russia
"Actually, it is the Ukrainian army which is in the state of war with its own people for 8 years already. In 2021, they have violated the ceasefire 1,923 times, shot innocent people with more than 4,000 mines and artillery shells of different calibres causing numerous losses among civilians and damaging residential buildings and infrastructure facilities. All this comes together with the constant line on depriving the Russian-speaking citizens of their social and political rights, including the right to use the Russian language in schools and everyday life. Exactly this kind of attitude had pushed Crimean people away from the current Ukrainian authorities which ceased power in 2014 through the coup d'état. Citizens of the peninsula, being threatened by attempts of an extreme "Ukrainization" had exercised then their right for self-determination and conducted the referendum to join Russia. Since then, we consistently promote the principle point – there's no issue of Crimea." The lengthy statement also says that, "there is no sign of the Kiev's intention to start a dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk as it is envisaged by the Minsk Package of Measures which, in terms of resolving the Ukraine's internal crisis, is the fundamental document elaborated by Russia"
What starts with Indian media moves onto the complex geopolitical equation of the entire region. "Unfortunately, we see that Kiev's militaristic aspirations are openly supported by the United States and other NATO countries, which are supplying weapons to Ukraine and sending military specialists there. Since 2014, Washington has spent over $2.5 billion on the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces. Another $300 million have been allocated in the US budget for 2022. NATO member states are systematically transforming Ukraine into a military foothold against Russia, building their bases and using its territory for military exercises." It adds, "Given such circumstances, it is completely ridiculous to hear accusations that Russia is allegedly concentrating the armed forces near its borders and preparing some kind of a combat action. In fact, any sovereign state has the right to freely deploy its military units within its own territory."
India's stance on Moscow and Ukraine issue
In March last year, India signalled its backing on the Ukraine issue at a United Nations Security Council meet. India's Deputy Permanent Representative at United Nations R Ravindra stated India's position supporting Moscow on the Ukraine issue including Crimea, "India has advocated political and diplomatic solutions that protect the legitimate interests of all countries in the region and ensure long term peace and stability in Europe and beyond. The path forward can only be through peaceful dialogue for a lasting solution acceptable to all concerned."