India abstaining from voting on several resolutions passed at the UN Security Council (UNSC), UN General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine has drawn global attention, especially from its Western allies.
When India abstained from voting in the emergency resolution presented in February in the initial phase of the war in Ukraine which condemned Russian military operation calling it ‘Russian aggression’, the Western media as well as its Western allies subtly hinted that India is not vocally condemning Russian actions in Ukraine.
India Abstained From These Votes and Resolutions at the UN in 2022:
- February 25: India abstained on a US-sponsored UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution condemning the ‘Russian aggression’ in Ukraine
- March 2: India abstained from voting on resolution against Russia at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and also abstained at a meeting to convene an urgent debate at UNHRC.
- March 4: India abstained on a vote at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva to set up an international commission of enquiry into Russia’s actions in Ukraine
- March 24: India abstained on a draft resolution proposed by Ukraine that held Russia responsible for the crisis
- March 24: India abstained a procedural vote proposed by South Africa on actions to be taken to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine
- March 25: India abstained from a Russia-sponsored humanitarian resolution in the UNSC on the Ukraine situation
- April 7: India abstained from a draft resolution to suspend Russia from UNHRC over the Ukraine crisis
- October 1: India abstained on a draft resolution at the UNSC condemning the so-called referenda organised by Russia across four regions of Ukraine
- October 6: India abstained on a resolution at the UNHRC promoting human rights in Sri Lanka
- October 6: India abstained from voting on a resolution at the UN High Commission calling for a debate on human rights concerns surrounding Xinjiang
Months later, India abstained from another crucial voting on a resolution presented at the UN High Commission calling for a debate on human rights concerns surrounding Xinjiang which was aimed at holding China accountable for their alleged mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims.
It took many by surprise because India-China relations are going through a difficult phase following Chinese aggression at India’s borders in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The Galwan Valley clashes in June 2020 has led to deterioration of bilateral ties between New Delhi and Beijing.
There were calls for India to seize the opportunity and criticise China but India’s foreign policy bats for neutrality. India has reiterated on several forums that public shaming of a nation at an international forum does not help resolve issues which are being raised. India prefers that dialogue and diplomacy should lead the way and country-specific resolutions often do not work.
The US and its allies have condemned North Korea, Russia, Myanmar and China among many other countries for their alleged violations of human rights but these have not yielded results on the ground.
India also has very close ties to all parties involved in the Ukraine crisis. Moscow and New Delhi have a friendship that stretches way back to the days of India’s freedom from colonial rule. Moscow has also helped India with defence supplies when its defence industry was at its elementary stage.
Even with the West, India has close ties, mainly due to its people-to-people relations and presence of a strong Indian diaspora. In the UK as well as the US, British Indians and Indian Americans have not only contributed to the economic growth but also remain as an intrinsic part of their politics, economy and culture.
India has robust ties with Canada in North America and also has similar ties with France, Germany and other nations of the EU, and also South Korea, Australia and Japan in the Indo-Pacific. These nations’ support will be crucial if China ramps up its aggressive behaviour at the borders.
However, it should be noted that despite Moscow-Beijing bonhomie, the Kremlin has never isolated New Delhi and will continue to supply weapons, including the S-400 missile system, to bolster India’s defence.
But India’s abstinence does not mean that India does not condemn acts of aggression. The West as well as Russia on several occasions have omitted the repeated pleas made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russia has accused the West of tailoring PM Modi’s ‘not an era of war’ remark when he met with Putin for its own interests.
French president Emmanuel Macron, US president Joe Biden and other leaders lauded PM Modi’s remarks which angered Russia but Moscow has seldom made mentions in their readouts of India’s plea to all sides to return to the table. India has reacted strongly to the massacre in Bucha as well in strongly-worded statements but has stopped criticising any party openly in any of these forums.
India’s neutrality not only stems from the fact that it has friends everywhere on this planet but also from the fact that public shaming of any nation fails to provide solutions which can have an impact.
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