Ukraine crisis: Distance itself from Russia, says US after avoiding India
After the government repeatedly refrained from resolutions condemning Ukraine’s invasion, the Biden administration on Wednesday called on India to distance itself from Russia. India is the only major US ally that has refused to publicly criticize Moscow, although it has called for an end to the violence.
“What I can say is that India is now a really important security partner of ours, and we value that partnership. Going forward, I hope that the extreme criticism that Russia has faced will be countered. Part of it is that India will find that it is time to distance itself further from Russia,” said Donald Lu, assistant US Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs in a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. India to underscore the importance of a collective response condemning the Russian aggression”.
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Ahead of the virtual meeting of the Quad, the Biden administration turned up the heat, saying “there is no room for excuses or equations”. Other Quad members, Japan and Australia, are more openly associated with Washington.
Separately, US officials publicly said the Biden administration is “working to urge India to take a clearer position” after three of its abstentions in the UN debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The vote which some in the administration and Congress see as keeping New Delhi. Towards Moscow.
Officials acknowledged a “pitch fight” within the Biden administration over the boycott, apparently between hardliners who want to hold India’s feet on fire, and those willing to accept New Delhi’s explanation for their vote: The fact that it needs the help of both Russia and Ukraine will drive 20,000 of its citizens, mostly students, out of Ukraine; And its long-standing (but dwindling) legacy reliance on Russian arms supplies, especially tensions with China, assumes significance.
The matter also came up in a Senate subcommittee, and Lu responded that new US sanctions on Russian banks would make it harder for countries to buy key defense equipment from Moscow, although no decision was made by Washington to exempt New Delhi. Delivery of Russian S400 surface-to-air missiles under an earlier contract. “Due to the massive sanctions imposed on Russian banks, it is going to be very difficult for any country in the world to buy major weapons systems from Russia,” Lu said.
Less than a week later, State Department spokesman Ned Price had said that the US understands India’s relationship with Russia. “We share important interests with India. We share important values with India. And we know that India’s relationship with Russia is different from our relationship with Russia. Of course, that is fine,” he said, underlining that Washington has told every country that uses it with Moscow to protect the rules-based international order.
New Delhi has pushed back in some quarters against the notion that it has to be in the Russian camp, pointing out that it stands for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries involved – an implied crossing of Moscow’s red line. Criticism.
The State Department acknowledges this. “India has expressed its deep concern over the situation in Ukraine and reiterated its call for an immediate end to violence and an end to hostilities. As India has said, ‘All member states of the United Nations are obliged not only to abide by the United Nations Charter but to respect international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the states’.
The perception in the US Congress – where India came under fire during a hearing on Thursday – is that New Delhi is struggling to free itself from dependence on Moscow, an approach supported by the administration. Lu said that Russian arms purchases from India have come down by 53 per cent but there is still work to be done. “I understand the arms affair, but that doesn’t explain India not voting for the values it supports. I’m disappointed it didn’t get involved,” said Senator Gene Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire. That talks are going on at the highest level to bridge the gap between the two sides.