Asia Pacific votes on Ukraine resolution . . .
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution on Wednesday reprimanding Russia for its aggression which found support from 141 of the 193 members. Five member states—including North Korea—voted against the resolution that was co-sponsored by 94 countries, including 14 in the Asia Pacific. With the exceptions of Laos and Vietnam, most countries in Southeast Asia supported the resolution. Meanwhile, in South Asia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka abstained, while Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal voted for the resolution. For smaller countries, such as the Maldives, who do not possess the military prowess to take on Russia, the vote signified a principled stand on protecting sovereignty and territorial integrity.
India and Russia's time-tested relationship . . .
New Delhi and Moscow share a long-standing relationship that goes beyond the fact that 49 per cent of India’s arms imports comes from Russia. For example, both India and Russia have often backed each other at multilateral fora on contentious issues such as Kashmir and the 2014 Crimean crisis. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met multiple times over the last eight years, signed a defence deal, and cooperated on nuclear power production. Presumably, these close ties likely made it possible for Modi to call Putin on Wednesday to ensure the safe exit of the 20,000 Indian students trapped in Ukraine.
Caught between a rock and a hard place . . .
India has had to carefully navigate its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as it attempts to balance its strategic ties with Moscow and the West. Some policy experts warn that the US should refrain from reacting to India’s abstention, bearing in mind the importance of the US-India alliance in the Indo-Pacific region. Given its unique position, India could play a vital role as a mediator to broker peace between the two nuclear superpowers. However, remaining neutral may become increasingly difficult for India, as it will likely come under significant pressure from both the US and Russia to show support for either side, should the Russia-Ukraine conflict continue to escalate without a breakthrough in peace talks. That India’s balanced approach on the conflict has progressed from a statement on “ceasefire” to “violation of territorial integrity,” along with its efforts to diversify its arms imports and oil supply, shows the country will likely turn its back on Russia if forced into a corner. For now, however, it appears that India will hold out on its policy of neutrality for as long as possible.
- The Diplomat: How did Asian countries vote on the UN’s Ukraine resolution?
- The Indian Express: Explained: How dependent is India on Russia’s weapons?
- The New York Times: As world rebukes Russia, India tries to stay above the fray