'Stability of international order in question,' says PM Modi on Ukraine war
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said regional cooperation - specifically among south and south-east Asian countries - had become a priority because the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war had 'raised questions about the stability of the international order'. The prime minister was delivering a virtual address at the BIMSTEC summit chaired by Sri Lanka.
"The recent developments in Europe have raised questions about the stability of the international order. In this context, it has become a greater priority to have regional cooperation," he told representatives of the seven-nation regional bloc.
"(As) our region faces challenges of health and economic security, the need of the hour is unity and cooperation," he said, noting India would provide BIMSTEC with $1 million towards its operating budget. "It is important to strengthen the capacity (of the regional alliance)..."
In his brief address the prime minister also underlined the importance of agreeing on a FTA, or free trade agreement to 'increase mutual trade among BIMSTEC nations'.
"The time has come to make the Bay of Bengal the bridge of connectivity, prosperity and security. I call on all BIMSTEC nations to dedicate themselves to working with new enthusiasm to achieve the goals we achieved together in 1997," PM Modi said.
BIMSTEC constitutes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand.
The prime minister's remarks come amid continued global concern over the crisis in Ukraine.
Russia's invasion on Feb 24 has sparked Europe's biggest armed conflict since World War II, with thousands dead and over 10 million people displaced.
The fallout of the war in Ukraine has also impacted the global economy, with several countries, including India, battling surging oil and food prices.
On Tuesday India reiterated its call for unimpeded humanitarian access to battlezones in Ukraine. India told the United Nations Security Council it remains 'deeply concerned at the ongoing situation, which continues to deteriorate since the beginning of the hostilities'.
"We reiterate our call for unimpeded humanitarian access to areas of armed conflict in Ukraine," TS Tirumurti, the country's permanent rep to the UNSC, said.
India had abstained from voting on any UN resolution against Russia and Vladimir Putin.
Another round of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia took place in Turkey's Istanbul Tuesday. A glimmer of hope emerged from the talks, with Moscow saying it would scale back its offensive against Ukraine capital Kyiv and the city of Chernihiv in the north.
Kyiv, meanwhile, said it would not look to join NATO - application to which triggered Moscow's military action over claims of a threat to its national security. Kyiv will, however, look to join the European Union and Moscow said it had no objection to this.
Over a month into the largest attack on a European nation since World War II, nearly four million civilians have fled Ukraine. Russia's invasion began after Putin launched what he called a 'special military operation' to demilitarise and 'denazify' Ukraine.