Geopolitics : Reason behind India’s stand on Russia vs Ukraine War 2022

The war between Ukraine and Russia has took the world by storm, people of all ages have suffered in the Ukraine Crisis. Men, women and elderly have to take up arms in order to protect their land. There was a meet at United Nations Security Council and India, being the current non-permanent member has decided to abstain from voting against Russia.

Let us see why India abstained from voting at the UNSC and it has its valid reasons.

History between India and Russia

Good relations between India and Russia were established since Russia and 14 other nations were one union called as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Armenia Azerbaijan Belarus Estonia Georgia Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Latvia Lithuania Moldova Russia Tajikistan Turkmenistan Ukraine Uzbekistan).

In World War II, thousands of Indian soldiers died defending Soviet Union from Nazi forces, not because India loved Russia, but because our imperial occupants, the Britishers, wanted Indians to do that. Anyway it was one of the gestures India did to save USSR from the Nazis.

India and USSR relation in 1965

India wasn’t aligned to the USSR till 1965. It was traditionally a UK client state. What changed? The steady, and increasing support from US and UK to Pakistan on Kashmir, which extended beyond diplomacy to high-tech military hardware aimed at India.

Both Sandhurst and WestPoint taught Rawalpindi the benefits of Airforce diplomacy. In those days, Pakistan was the India of today, with an access to Iran, the oil kingdoms, and an open door to a significantly poor PRC. The 1965 war, along with the US-directed fuel embargo on us, were the proverbial backbreaking straws, alongside the PL480 humiliation.

India fought the 1965 war with largely UK-made weapons against US-made topline hardware gifted to Pakistan. India did not have any Western ally. It faced neo-colonialists who had graduated from occupation of land to occupation of leadership, unlike the primitive colonialists to its west and north who wanted to capture land and river sources.

India and USSR relation in 1971

A very important important moment post independence of India happened in 1971 when India was at war with Pakistan. In 1971, India and Pakistan went to war over a humanitarian crisis in East Pakistan i.e. present-day Bangladesh. Fighter jets were flying in from Jordan, Iran, France and Turkey to assist Pakistan. It also had moral and naval support from the US and the UK. Warships were dispatched to the Indian Ocean region, ships from Britain were targeting India’s West Coast and the US navy was heading to the Bay of Bengal region.

New Delhi was calling out for help against the coordinated and multi-dimensional attack. Nobody came out to help, nobody but the Soviet Union. It dispatched its nuclear-armed fleet and atomic submarines in the Indian Ocean region. It encircled the region and stopped the US and the UK navy from entering India’s territorial waters. It was the Soviet Union that came to the rescue of India when it needed someone the most.

Post independence, though we adopted the policy of non alignment, but our leaning to socialist USSR was rather conspicuous. We opened our markets to technology USSR (steel plants, fertiliser plants, nuclear reactors, weapons etc.) Since then Russia and India have been in good relations.

In 1971, the West blamed India for the war. In the current scenario, the West is blaming Russia for the war. No one is questioning the USA on why did it break the agreement NATO had with Russia that NATO will not be expanded in the East. NATO had 18 members then and has 28 members now. All of them were included by NATO in a breach of agreement with Russia back in 1992. Russia is waging this war to defend itself.

Other reasons why India still has good relations to Russia

Raj Kapoor was a superhero in the USSR, ISKON temples all over Russia and other nations spread values of religions that have originated from India. Putin and Modi have shared good relations in the past. Russia is a huge supporter of India in becoming the permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Ukraine had objected India’s nuclear test and supported westerns sanctions when INDIA was trying to defend itself from the Nuclear weapon harbouring neighbouring enemies and supplied hundred of tanks to a terror sponsoring state Pakistan despite objection.

Now Ukraine is expecting India to be on its side. Ask Western alliance why they are not sending the troops but only weapons? Why sanctions are happening in a piecemeal approach or why they are not going all in with these sanctions? What the rational behind this wait? Why they are not making the Ukraine a part of the NATO alliance effective immediately to stop this? Why Russia’s biggest lucrative sectors like oil and gas were not the part of the sanction as of now? Because the West needs oil and energy! Taking a side is not a solution for India. Just like any other nations India has to think about its Geopolitical situation.

Although India abstained from voting due to Humanitarian, Moral and Civil grounds and understanding that people’s lives and common man who has nothing to do with war; their lives are at stake but it looks like India has shared a special relation with Russia all over the years and has no reason to go against it.

Looking at the other side of the decision

Every decision that has ever been made has two sides. The only problem is modern day Russia can not be equated with the Soviet Union. It was the Soviets who helped India, they had a very different ideology and leadership to what modern day Russia has.

Even their geo-political interests were different. SU helped India because they found it to be another proxy warzone to counter US dominance at the world stage during the cold war. They were to a large extent thinking of their interest which coincidentally coincided with India winning the battle with Pakistan.

Moreover, the question today is that of a moral stance. We can say with an absolute certainty that the people losing their lives in Ukraine had nothing to do with why the US didn’t support India half a century ago. Moreover, Ukraine was a part of Soviet Union then. Hence, the lineage of those living in Ukraine technically helped India.

Again, if we think Russia is doing this out of love for having better relations with India, then that is not how global politics work. It is based on mutual interest. India imports 86% of its defence equipment from Russia. India being a major oil importer also imports a large part from Russia. India and Russia have close ties when it comes to each other’s security framework. Moreover, India won’t have any moral stance to defend itself diplomatically next time it asks to pass a resolution at the UNSC when China invades its borders like it did in 2020.

Russia in 1971 and 2022 are different with different outlook. Moreover, 1971 USSR and 2022 Russia are not the same. In 1971, post Cold War Russia with Eastern Block wanted an Asian expansion. Being rejected by China, Russia in 1971 extended their hands to India under the treaty of Tashkent in 1967. India’s alignment with Russia in 1967 treaty had offended most of the super powers like US, UK, France, Germany and even Australia. The reason Western allies thought India is reclining towards socialism rather than democracy.

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