Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla in US ahead of key UNGA meet on Ukraine
NEW DELHI: Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has embarked on an unannounced visit to New York ahead of a crucial special emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday that will take up a draft resolution seeking condemnation of Russia’s offensive against Ukraine.
India’s permanent representative to the UN, TS Tirumurti, tweeted about Shringla’s arrival in New York on Wednesday. “Foreign Secretary will participate in the UN Security Council meeting on cooperation between UN and the League of Arab States @arableague_gs,” he said.
India is currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and Shringla participated in another session of the body on Afghanistan last year. However, he arrived in the US just hours before the UNGA takes up two rival draft resolutions on the situation in Ukraine.
New Delhi, which has so far refrained from publicly criticising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is facing growing pressure from Washington and other Western powers to change its stance on the conflict in Europe. India has repeatedly called for an immediate end to the hostilities and a return to the path of dialogue. It has also stressed on respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.
A French-Mexican draft resolution, which is backed by more than 60 countries, to be considered on Wednesday by the 193-member General Assembly reiterates the world body’s March 2 demand for Russia to stop the military offensive in Ukraine and withdraw all its troops.
It also deplores the “dire humanitarian consequences” of Russia’s hostilities against Ukraine, including the besiegement and shelling of densely populated cities.
The rival South African draft resolution makes no mention of Russia and instead calls for “an immediate cessation of hostilities”, and encourages “all parties” to return to “political dialogue, negotiations, mediation and other peaceful means aimed at achieving lasting peace”.
Shringla’s presence in New York is significant in the view of the growing pressure on India to alter its position on the Ukraine crisis. On Monday, US President Joe Biden said that with the “possible exception of India”, the world has mounted a “united front” through North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, on the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Biden also said that within the Quad, India has been “somewhat shaky” on the issue. Hours after Biden made the remarks, US undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland, who was in New Delhi for official talks with Shringla, said it was important for democracies to stand together at a time when “autocracies like Russia [and] China are showing what a level of threat they can be to peace and security”.
Pressure on India has also increased from Western partners such as France and Germany.
India has so far abstained on all Ukraine-related resolutions at UN bodies. The March 2 resolution on the aggression against Ukraine was adopted by the UNGA by a vote of 141-5, with 35 abstentions. India and South Africa were among the countries that abstained.
New Delhi’s position has been linked to its long-standing military and strategic ties with Moscow. In the past week, India has also taken up Russia’s offer of crude oil at discounted rates in order to ensure energy security.