Sunday, Sep 25, 2022

Ukraine President Zelenskyy Asks PM Modi For Political Support

India is in touch with all sides as the Ukraine crisis continues to flare up. Speculations, in some quarters, that Delhi can play peacemaker is unlikely as Ukraine becomes centre-stage for the global power play.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. AP

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday a day after India abstained from a vote on a  UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s military strike against his country.

President Zelenskyy briefed India’s Prime Minister on the ongoing military action by Russian forces in Ukraine. Zelenskyy has been appealing to the world for support. His call to Modi was to ask for support at the UN Security Council. Zelenskyy tweeted to say he had asked India to support Ukraine to fight the Russian aggression.

"Spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Informed of the course of Ukraine repulsing Russian aggression. More than 1,00,000 invaders are on our land. They insidiously fire on residential buildings. Urged India to give us political support in U.N. Security Council. Stop the aggressor together,” Zelenskyy said in a tweet after his phone call on Saturday to the Indian Prime Minister.


Yesterday, Ukraine’s envoy to India Igor Polikha had called for urgent intervention from India to stop Russian action. Pointing to India’s privileged strategic relations with Russia, he wanted Modi to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the Russian advance.

These remarks as well as President Zelenskyy’s call to  Modi today has led to speculations in India of New Delhi playing the role of peacemaker in the conflict. No doubt Prime Minister Modi would do that if he could, but the situation is complex and is not just about a bilateral conflict between Moscow and Kyiv. Powerful global forces are in action with Russia on one side and the US and NATO allies on the other. This is certainly not just about Ukraine. India has excellent ties with all the major powers involved but Russia will do what it has to do for its security. No one can stop Putin, till he is given an assurance by NATO that Ukraine will remain neutral and not join the Western military alliance. Washington is not willing to concede and whether the war will help Putin achieve his goals is not clear as of now. Putin will stop when he thinks Russia’s national interests are secured or he wants an escape route. As of now, that has not happened. So, for the time being, India like the rest of the world can at best appeal for peace.  

Prime Minister expressed his deep anguish about the loss of life and property due to the ongoing conflict. He reiterated his call for an immediate cessation of violence and a return to dialogue and expressed India’s willingness to contribute in any way towards peace efforts.

Modi is one of the few world leaders to have spoken to Putin since the Russian President ordered special military operations against Ukraine. Modi had asked Putin to stop the war and get back to the negotiating table. He had told Putin that "the differences between Russia and NATO can only be resolved through honest and sincere dialogue." New Delhi has been calling for dialogue since the beginning of the crisis.

During his conversation with Zelenskyy, Modi also spoke about his concern for Indian nationals stuck in the war zone. The fate of  Indian students stuck in western Ukraine is a major concern. Modi asked the President to facilitate the evacuation of Indian citizens. However, at a time when according to a Reuters report quoting Britain, the Russian forces were now around 30 km from the centre of Kyiv. In these circumstances with the Russian army not far from the capital, it would be difficult for Ukraine to assist foreign students.