Russia is India’s best friend on the international stage. If there is one country that India can rely on to support it whenever the need arises, it is Russia. Over the past many decades, particularly after the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war that witnessed India liberating Bangladesh, ties between Moscow and New Delhi have grown from strength to strength. Throughout the decades, India’s ties with the United States have fluctuated.
There have been good times, and extremely bad years of Indo-US ties as well. But Russia has been a constant for New Delhi. Whenever India needed help, Russia has always risen to the task. Now, it only makes sense for India to help Russia in its time of need.
As is widely known, tensions have spiked in Eastern Europe, due to the Ukraine crisis. Russia has amassed 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, and it seems things can escalate out of control very quickly. If you are following the Western media, you may be thinking that Vladimir Putin is the wrong man here. After all, Western media is full of anti-Moscow propaganda over the issue. They say that Putin wants to invade Ukraine, something like the bigger shark devouring the smaller one.
But the narrative is completely manipulated. Putin doesn’t want to invade Ukraine. He simply wants Russian influence in Eastern Europe to stay intact. He doesn’t want NATO expanding eastward and reaching into countries like Georgia and Ukraine. If the US can commit to this much, Putin will not escalate tensions. And yet, Washington and its allies are not willing to comply; and neither is Moscow backing down.
India Picks a Side – It’s Russia’s
India on Monday called for an immediate de-escalation of tensions related to Ukraine, reiterated its support for a peaceful resolution of the issue for long-term peace and stability, and appealed for quiet and constructive diplomacy. Recently, India had abstained from a vote on whether the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should take up the situation in Ukraine as a possible threat to international peace and security.
India was joined in its abstention by Kenya and Gabon. For its support and for not buckling under American pressure, Russia even thanked India. First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy said in a tweet on Monday, “US diplomacy at its worst. Thanks to 4 our colleagues China, India, Gabon and Kenya who were brave to withstand US hand-twisting before the vote.”
As tensions continue to rise in Eastern Europe, India and Russia held high-level talks on Monday. Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Sergey Vasilyevich Vershinin, visited India and met Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Reenat Sandhu, secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said, “Both sides held wide-ranging discussions on issues on the UN Security Council agenda and related developments. Both sides agreed to deepen cooperation on issues of mutual interest at multilateral platforms. The Russian delegation briefed India on its priorities during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. Both sides also agreed to work closely together, given the common challenges faced and in keeping with their longstanding Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.”
How Russia Has Always Stood by India
Whenever India needed help, Russia always stood up to lend a shoulder. The most recent example of the special and strategic partnership between New Delhi and Moscow is the fact that when India needed weapons and ammunition during the 2020 Galwan dispute with China, Russia stepped in to help without any reservations. It is Russia’s military aid that helped India challenge China in Eastern Ladakh. Russia has started deliveries of the S-400 air defence systems to India as well.
During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, the United States turned hostile towards India and brazenly supported Pakistan. It was during this time that India got into a very important alliance with Russia. The British and the Americans had planned a pincer-like movement to intimidate India by the simultaneous deployment of British warships in the Arabian Sea and the Americans moving towards the Bay of Bengal in the East. To counter this move, the Russians dispatched a nuclear-armed flotilla that had an array of destroyers, frigates and submarines, which forced the Americans and British naval assets to retreat.
During the Kargil War too, Russia supported India. In all tensions between India and Pakistan, Moscow has unflinchingly chosen to stand by India. Now, New Delhi has simply done its part by not supporting an anti-Russia motion at the UNSC.
India has, therefore, rejected the West’s blatant anti-Russia and anti-Putin propaganda. The situation in Eastern Europe is far more nuanced, and India knows that, which is why it has not acted against Russia’s interests.