During a phone discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an early end to the violence in Ukraine and urged all parties to return to the road of diplomatic negotiations.
After Putin ordered a military campaign in Ukraine to support the Moscow-backed regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, fears of a wider battle in Europe arose. Modi was the first international leader to speak with Putin. The safety and evacuation of around 16,000 Indian nationals, largely students, from Ukraine has been a top priority for the Indian government.
“The Prime Minister asked for an immediate end of violence and a determined effort from all sides to return to the road of diplomatic negotiations and engagement,” according to an official statement released following the phone chat.
According to the statement, Modi also “sensitised the Russian President to India’s worries about the safety of Indian citizens in Ukraine, particularly students, and underlined that India places the highest importance on their safe withdrawal and return to India.”
According to the statement, Putin briefed Modi on recent developments in Ukraine, and the prime minister “reiterated his long-standing stance that the disagreements between Russia and NATO can only be resolved via honest and sincere conversation.”
Both leaders agreed to maintain “frequent communication on subjects of current importance” between their officials and diplomatic teams.
After chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Modi spoke with Putin on measures to secure the safety of Indian people in Ukraine and their evacuation through neighbouring countries such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. S Jaishankar, India’s external affairs minister, was scheduled to meet with his counterparts from these four countries about the situation and evacuation efforts.
Harsh Shringla, India’s foreign secretary, said at a press conference that India is ready to promote any interaction or dialogue between the parties involved in the Ukraine issue because it has solid relations with all of the important players.
“It’s true that India has had excellent connections with all of the countries involved, whether it’s the United States, Russia, or the European Union” (EU). In response to a question about whether India could play a role in bringing the US and Russia together, he said, “We have been in touch with all parties…both as a member of the [UN] Security Council, as a country with a lot at stake in that region, as a country with so many of its citizens in a vulnerable zone.”
India’s priority at the UN Security Council, according to Shringla, has been to de-escalate tensions and engage in diplomatic engagement, which is the only way ahead.
India, according to Shringla, would carefully assess the impact of fresh sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Australia. Some unilateral sanctions against Russia were already in place, and others have been announced. According to Shringla, the situation is swiftly changing, and India will have to assess the impact of the punitive measures on the country’s interests.
“Any penalties will have an impact on our present relationship,” he added, adding that India needed to evaluate the situation carefully.
The new penalties are expected to have an influence on India’s long-standing defence cooperation with Russia, as well as efforts to secure a US waiver on potential secondary sanctions on India’s multibillion-dollar deal to acquire the S-400 air defence system.
Because of the events in Ukraine, Shringla acknowledged that the global scenario had changed. “The situation has deteriorated significantly. All possibilities are on the table, and we have contacts with all parties. “We will do everything in our power to preserve our country’s and people’s interests,” he declared.
India has so far refrained from criticising Russia’s conduct due to the two nations’ close strategic ties and fears that doing so might push Moscow closer to China and its all-weather partner, Pakistan.