India is a big country that “stands tall and proud on its own” with its own relations with competing international blocs and nobody pushes it around.
That was the message from India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj on Thursday when she was asked at a news conference about Russia’s Foreign Minister’s assertion that the western military group NATO was pushing New Delhi towards an anti-Moscow and anti-Beijing alliance.
“India is a bigger country. It stands tall and proud on its own,” she said emphasising its multi-dimensional, independent policy.
“We do have a relationship with Russia, an important relationship with Russia… And as far as the relationship with the US is concerned, it’s a comprehensive strategic partnership, which has never been closer, tighter or stronger than it is today.”
India has taken over the presidency of the Security Council when it is paralysed on the invasion of Ukraine by veto-wielding Russia and the global tensions reflected in it.
India’s open lines of communication to the West and to Russia could be useful in this context.
Ukraine issues were not included in the Council’s programme of work for the month adopted on Thursday but Kamboj said she expected it to come up.
Diplomatic sources said that the western countries were planning to bring up as early as next week the humanitarian situation in Ukraine that is under a fierce attack by Russia.
Looking from the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that is driving the discourse, Kamboj said: “We have been very clear and consistent right from the outset, we have spoken in one voice, that we are for peace. Peace is also a right. And we favor that diplomacy and dialogue.
“To this end, our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is speaking to both sides, our Foreign Minister (S. Jaishankar) is speaking to both sides.
“We are among the few countries, dare I say this, which is speaking to both.”
She recalled Modi telling Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “This is not an era of war”, and said that it “has received global acceptance” and was included in the G20’s recent declaration.
G20, the group of major industrialised and emerging economies, at its summit in Bali last month accepted the wording for a consensus to adopt the declaration.
She also said that India has condemned the attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Kamboj said that India was assisting Ukraine, sending it 12 medical consignments and financial assistance to build educational institutions.
Asked by a reporter about the protests in China and its government’s Covid policy, she said” “We don’t comment on the internal and domestic matters of other countries; it is not for us to comment on that.”
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com and followed at @arulouis)