US leaves no stone unturned to take India ahead on UN voteAuthor: Yuvi March 4, 2022
Top US diplomat Donald Lu said the Biden administration pulled out all stops to persuade India to vote along with 141 other countries that had denounced Russia for attacking Ukraine.
Mr Lu was speaking to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday when India refrained from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution.
“We have left no stone unturned in trying to persuade India to vote in the UN session, but also to show support for Ukraine at this critical moment. Those efforts were led by Secretary Blinken,” Mr. Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told the committee, which was hearing US-India relations under its chairman (Democrat), Chris Murphy, and Ranking Member (Republican) Todd Young.
The Indian government’s argument was that it wanted to leave open the possibility of a diplomatic solution and was concerned about the welfare of the 18,000 students in Ukraine and working with both sides to ensure their safety, Mr. Lu said.
Senator Chris Van Hollen (Democrat, Maryland) said concern over the lives of students is more reason to condemn Russian aggression.
Mr Young at one point said that India was trying to be on the side of the winners in a Russian-Ukraine (supported by the West) situation.
“I think they are trying to pick the winning side. This may concern some people in their government, and we need to display our determination and unity so that they understand that we Not going away,” he said.
“We will stand with the people of Ukraine and make Vladimir Putin’s life hell for years to come.”
Several senators expressed disappointment or a sense of surprise at India’s vote.
New Hampshire Democrat Gene Shaheen said he was aware of the arms affair but did not think “it also covers values”.
“India is the world’s largest democracy. And so I expected India to join the rest of the world’s democracies in support of Ukraine.
The ban or exemption on the purchase of the S-400 has not yet been decided
Mr. Lu was repeatedly asked whether India would be allowed to purchase the S-400 Triumph missile defense system from Russia. America’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law mandates sanctions for those buying weapons from Russia, allowing the president to waive such sanctions, unless certain exceptions apply.
Mr. Lu said the question was still being considered and he did not want the decisions of President Joe Biden or Secretary of State Tony Blinken to predetermine whether there would be sanctions or waivers and whether Russia attacking Ukraine would have that effect. There will be no impact on the decision. ,
“What I can say is that India is now a really important security partner of ours and we value taking that partnership forward,” he said.
“I hope that part of the extreme criticism Russia has faced is that India will now find time to distance itself.”
According to Mr Lu, US officials were also on the phone with Pakistani and Sri Lankan diplomats on the eve of the vote (Tuesday), trying to persuade them to support the resolution. Both countries abstained from voting. Mr Lu said the administration was trying to figure out “how to specifically engage” with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan after his recent visit to Moscow.
Referring to international banking sanctions on Moscow after the attack on Ukraine, Mr. Lu said, paying not only for high-end Russian systems like the S-400, but also ammunition and spare parts will be difficult in the years to come. Was about to happen, Mr. Lu said. , He was responding to a question from Mr Young about how the Biden administration was increasing arms sales to India from the US and allies.
“I think if I were a consumer of Russian technology right now, I would want to make sure I have diversity because we would see a problem for Russian customers securing reliable supply,” he said.