When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Vladimir Putin “today’s era is not of war” last month, the West welcomed his comments as a sign the world’s largest democracy was finally coming off the fence about Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron praised Modi and the White House lauded what it called a “statement of principle.”
But the reality, analysts say, is less straightforward.
Rather than cutting economic ties with the Kremlin, India has undermined Western sanctions by increasing its purchases of Russian oil, coal and fertilizer – giving Putin a vital financial lifeline.
New Delhi has repeatedly abstained from votes condemning Russia at the United Nations – providing Moscow with a veneer of international legitimacy. And in August, India participated in Russia’s large-scale Vostok military exercises alongside China, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan – where Moscow paraded its vast arsenal.
Last week, India abstained from another UN draft resolution condemning Russia over its sham referendums in four regions of Ukraine, which have been used as a pretext by Moscow to illegally annex Ukrainian territory – significantly upping the stakes in the war.
India is “deeply disturbed” by the developments in Ukraine, said Ruchira Kamboj, New Delhi’s permanent representative to the UN, but stopped short of attributing blame and urged an “immediate ceasefire and resolution of the conflict.”
This apparent contradiction exemplifies India’s unique position on the war: verbally distancing itself from Russia, while continuing to maintain pivotal ties with Moscow.
Modi’s “stronger language to Putin” should be seen in the context of rising food, fuel and fertilizer prices, and the “hardships that was creating for other countries,” said Deepa Ollapally, research professor and director of the Rising Powers Initiative at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.
“There’s a certain level of impatience (for India) with the intensification of the war,” she said. “There’s a feeling that Putin is pushing India’s limits because in some ways, it’s put itself out on a limb. And it’s not a comfortable position for India to be in.”
‘A tale of two Indias’
As Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border in December last year, Modi welcomed Putin in New Delhi during the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit.
“My dear friend, President Vladimir Putin,” Modi said, “your attachment with India and your personal commitment symbolize the importance of India-Russia relations and I am very grateful to you for that.”
New Delhi has strong ties with Moscow dating back to the Cold War, and India remains heavily reliant on the Kremlin for military equipment – a vital link given India’s ongoing tensions at its shared Himalayan border with an increasingly assertive China.
But according to analysts, India is concerned that Putin’s increasing isolation could draw Moscow closer to Beijing – and that requires India to tread carefully.
New Delhi’s contorted maneuvering in its stance on Russia’s aggression in Ukraine was on show when, alongside China, it took part in Russia’s Vostok military exercises – a move attacked by its Western partners.
“This can be seen as a tale of two Indias,” said Ollapally. “On the one hand, they are pushing back against China and then exercising along with China and Russia, giving Russia a certain amount of legitimacy.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a group photo prior to their trilateral meeting at the G20 Osaka Summit 2019 on June 28, 2019 in Osaka, Japan.
Superficially at least, India and China also appear to have similar positions on the Ukraine war. Both have positioned themselves as neutral onlookers rather than vocal opponents. Both have also called for peace – but refused to condemn the invasion outright.
But that’s where the similarities appear to end, analysts say.
China has decried Western sanctions and repeatedly blamed the United States and NATO for the conflict, parroting Russia’s view that NATO precipitated the crisis by expanding eastwards. Chinese state media has also amplified Russian talking points and disinformation. India on the other hand has steered clear of criticizing NATO and has used stronger language to call for peace as the war intensifies.
But despite India’s increasing closeness with the West, it is prioritizing the dangers in its own backyard, analysts say.
“China remains the big threat on India’s borders and India would not want the Russia-China alliance to become very strong,” said Sushant Singh, a senior fellow at New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research. “That is not in India’s interest.”
Soldiers attend strategic military exercise Vostok-2022 (East) in Moscow on September 1, 2022.
US President Joe Biden has, since the start of Russia’s aggression, used Putin’s war to bolster his global campaign for democracy.
“Ukraine and its people are on the front lines fighting to save their nation,” he said during a speech in March. “And their brave resistance is part of a larger fight for an essential democratic principles that unite all free people.”
While New Delhi’s ties with the West have been growing ever closer since Modi’s election in 2014, India, the world’s largest democracy of 1.3 billion, isn’t thinking along the same lines as the US.
For years after its independence, India’s international relations were defined by its policy of non-alignment, the Cold War era stance that avoided siding with either the US or the Soviet Union.
Despite India’s contemporary alliance with the West, and pressure from the US to take a stronger stand, that policy is continuing to play out, analysts say.
And according to Singh, India’s actions “have been to protect its own self interests.”
Speaking on the sidelines during a face-to-face meeting with Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit last month, Modi said the world was facing challenges, including food and energy shortages, that were particularly affecting developing countries.
“I know that today’s era is not of war and we have talked to you many times over the phone on the subject that democracy and diplomacy and dialogue are all these things that touch the world,” Modi told Putin.
And under Modi’s government – which has been decried for a clampdown on free speech and discriminatory policies toward minority groups – India risks being called hypocritical for doing so, according to Singh.
“India has been very hesitant to raise issues about democracy because it has been called out again and again for its authoritarian nature and anti-democratic acts against religious minorities,” Singh said.
But while Ollapally said what India was doing is “understandable” as a developing nation, New Delhi could do more to uphold democratic principles outlined in the preamble to the country’s constitution.
“I think there is certainly more that (India) could do on that front, at least in its statements, because it really doesn’t have that much to lose by making those statements,” she said.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited its close relationship with India which resulted in both nations sharing a special relationship. Russia and India both term this relationship as a "special and privileged strategic partnership".What is the relationship between Russia and India? ›
Bilateral ties with Russia are a key pillar of India's foreign policy. India sees Russia as a longstanding and time-tested friend that has played a significant role in its economic development and security.What happened between Ukraine and Russia? ›
There are no diplomatic or bilateral relations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Ukraine and Russia are in a state of war since February 2022.Who is the best friend of India? ›
- USA. USA has always been one of India's closest allies . ...
- Japan. ...
- Israel. ...
- Afghanistan. ...
- Bhutan. ...
- Russia. ...
- Myanmar. ...
- The Maldives.
Russia is about 5 times bigger than India.
India is approximately 3,287,263 sq km, while Russia is approximately 17,098,242 sq km, making Russia 420% larger than India.
Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations on 28th April, 1952. This treaty was one of the first peace treaties Japan signed after World War II. Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have enjoyed cordial relations.What does Russia import from India? ›
The wide variety of items–ranging from machinery, paper, textiles, leather and motor parts, to diagnostics and drugs–shows the country's interest in trading in products beyond food and daily essentials to close the trade gap,” the source said.Why is Ukraine not in NATO? ›
Plans for NATO membership were shelved by Ukraine following the 2010 presidential election in which Viktor Yanukovych, who preferred to keep the country non-aligned, was elected President.Why is Ukraine important to the world? ›
Ukraine is an important breadbasket, producing around half of the world's sunflower oil. According to the USDA , Ukraine accounts for 15% of global trade in corn and 10% of of global wheat trade. The conflict has cut off such exports, with Russia continuing to blockade grain at Ukraine's Black Sea ports.What would happen if the US and Russia went to war? ›
Nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia would kill more than 5 billion people – just from starvation, study finds. The toll of nuclear war would be instantly catastrophic for those who are within the immediate path of the weapons. But a new study shows just how deadly the scope of such a war would be.
"Man's best friend" is a common phrase used to describe domestic dogs, referring to their millennia-long history of close relations, loyalty, friendship, and companionship with humans.Is India famous in world? ›
According to the latest research, India ranks second in the world's most popular countries that people want to visit, beating popular destinations such as Greece and Japan.Who is called friend of India? ›
Chittaranjan Das (5 November 1870 – 16 June 1925), popularly called Deshbandhu (Friend of the Nation), was an Indian freedom fighter, political activist and lawyer during the Indian independence movement and founder-leader of the Swaraj Party in undivided Bengal during the period of British colonial rule in India.Whose economy is stronger India or Russia? ›
Economy. India has a GDP per capita of $7,200 as of 2017, while in Russia, the GDP per capita is $27,900 as of 2017.Is Indian military stronger than Russia? ›
In the 2022 rankings, the US predictably occupies the top slot among 140 countries with a Power Index score of 0.0453, while the unattainable perfect score is zero. Russia bags the second rank with a score of 0.0501, followed by China (0.0511), India (0.0979) and Japan (0.119).How many Russians are in India? ›
There is a small but recognisable Russian community in India which comprises Indian citizens of Russian heritage as well with Russian expatriates and migrants residing in India. According to the Russian government, 845 Russian citizens are registered as living in India.Which city is called Japan of India? ›
|Sivakasi Little Japan of India|
|Named for||Lord Varanasi Shivan|
|• Type||Municipal Corporation|
|• Body||Sivakasi Corporation|
The term is also used in Japan, where it is pronounced as Tenjiku (天竺). The foreign loanwords Indo (インド) and India (インディア) are also used in some cases. The current Japanese name for modern India is the foreign loanword Indo (インド).Is USA friend of India? ›
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India has also increased the purchase of Russian refined products, with fuel oil imports reaching close to 100,000 barrels per day in September, up from an average of nearly 60,000 bpd in the first quarter of 2022.
The largest share of India's imports came from China, accounting for over 16 percent in fiscal year 2021. United States followed at close to seven percent.Is India doing business with Russia? ›
Brief on India-Russia Economic Relations.
|Import to Russia||1016.45|
India is not a member of NATO and there are many reasons for not being a member country of NATO. The first and main reason is India is not in the North Atlantic or anywhere close to the Atlantic. And as you know NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization so, it is not possible for India to join NATO.Is China a part of NATO? ›
For the first time, NATO members included China in the Strategic Concept as posing a “systemic challenge” to Euro-Atlantic security. NATO 2022 Strategic Concept, NATO, June 29, 2022.Is NATO the strongest military alliance in the world? ›
The country with the second largest number of military personnel was Turkey, with just around 447,000 personnel. NATO, which was formed in 1949, is the most powerful military alliance in the world.What is the Ukraine rich in? ›
Ukraine has extremely rich and complementary mineral resources in high concentrations and close proximity to each other. The country has abundant reserves of coal, iron ore, natural gas, manganese, salt, oil, graphite, sulfur, kaolin, titanium, nickel, magnesium, timber, and mercury.Who is richer Russia or Ukraine? ›
GDP Data for Russia and Ukraine
Though Russia's economy is about ten times larger than Ukraine's in terms of GDP, Ukraine's GDP grew 70.8% from 2015 to 2020 while Russia's advanced only 8.8% in that same time frame.
As the UN Food and Agriculture Organization notes, Ukraine supplies up to 16% of the world's corn exports and more than 40% of the world's sunflower oil.Who is stronger Russia or USA? ›
In short, Russia is ranked 2nd out of 140 in military strength while the US is ranked 1st. As per the army population, Russia has 142,320,790 soldiers while The US has 334,998,398 soldiers. The available manpower is 69,737,187 with Russia and 147,399,295 with the United States.What will happen if we have a nuclear war? ›
Immediate effects of nuclear war
In a nuclear war, hundreds or thousands of detonations would occur within minutes of each other. Regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan that involved about 100 15-kiloton nuclear weapons launched at urban areas would result in 27 million direct deaths.
In the first month following nuclear detonation, average global temperatures would plunge by about 13 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees C), a larger temperature change than in the last Ice Age. Ocean temperatures would drop quickly and would not return to their pre-war state even after the smoke clears.Which country has India's best friend? ›
Countries considered India's closest include the United Arab Emirates, Russian Federation, Israel, Afghanistan, France, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and the United States.Is USA a friend of India? ›
The U.S.-India strategic partnership is founded on shared values including a commitment to democracy and upholding the rules-based international system. The United States and India have shared interests in promoting global security, stability, and economic prosperity through trade, investment, and connectivity.Is China a friend of India? ›
However, since the late 1980s, both countries have successfully rebuilt diplomatic and economic ties. Since 2008, China has been India's largest trading partner and the two countries have also extended their strategic and military relations.