India's voting at UN on Russia-Ukraine war explained by former US diplomat

India has faced criticism from US lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, for choosing to abstain from the UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions against Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations T S Tirumurti speaks.(PTI)
Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations T S Tirumurti speaks.(PTI)
Published on Mar 08, 2022 01:13 PM IST
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India has "compulsions" with Russia and territorial issues with China in its neighbourhood, a former American diplomat has told US lawmakers in response to a question on a string of abstentions at the United Nations by New Delhi against Russia’s massive military offensive in Ukraine.

India has faced criticism from US lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, for choosing to abstain from the UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions against Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

India has abstained on two resolutions on Ukraine in the 15-nation UN Security Council and one in the 193-member UN General Assembly.

“India has compulsions with Russia, they have compulsions in their neighbourhood, with territorial issues with China. I think, as Americans, we have an affinity toward Indians for their democracy, and the pluralism of their system. We've got to work through these issues as friends because we have to signal the strength of the two greatest democracies in the world,” said Atul Keshap.

Keshap, who is now president of US India Business Council (USIBC) and previously served in the US State Department in multiple positions, including the charge d'affaires to India, said this during a Congressional hearing on Indo-Pacific organised by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“There will be moments like this, but as long as we talk to each other as friends, I'm sure we'll get through it, and be on a stronger basis going forward,” Keshap said, responding to a question on India’s decision to abstain on resolutions against Russia.

“What do you think that means for how India is really going to try and navigate the sanctions that so many nations throughout the world are placing on Russia and Russian interests?” Congressman Abigail Spanberger asked Keshap.

In response, the former US diplomat said that nations make their own decisions, make their own calculus and take in all the inputs before deciding on what is best for them.

“I would always say that, in terms of the reliability, the utility, the value of the partnership with the United States, we have proven over and over again, to the Indian government and to the Indian people, that we are a true friend,” Keshap said.

“We are a friend in times of need. We are a friend in times of urgency. We deliver, we deliver rapidly, we deliver on time. There are things that I don't want to talk about in an open forum like this, but the United States has always come through, in the recent past, because of the strength of our QUAD partnership,” he said, referring to the four-nation grouping of the US, India, Australia and Japan.

“And, so you know, India will make its own decisions, but I do think that the US, its 250 or 350 million people, USD 22 trillion economy is something that is valuable, and relevant to the Indian people,” he added. 

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