Those backing Russia are ‘on the wrong side of history’: Ukrainian minister

Apr 12, 2023 05:36 AM IST

Emine Dzhaparova said Ukraine’s military cooperation with Pakistan was not targeted against India.

New Delhi: Ukraine’s first deputy foreign minister Emine Dzhaparova said on Tuesday that those backing Russia in the Ukraine war are “on the wrong side of history” and Kyiv plans to launch a counter-offensive in spring to create the grounds for fresh negotiations to end the hostilities.

Ukraine's first deputy foreign minister Emine Dzhaparova speaks in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI)
Ukraine's first deputy foreign minister Emine Dzhaparova speaks in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI)

Dzhaparova, the first senior Ukrainian leader to travel to New Delhi since the start of the Russian invasion last year, said Ukraine’s military cooperation with Pakistan was not targeted against India. The difficulties in India’s neighbourhood, especially strained relations with Pakistan and China, call for a pragmatic and balanced approach that should include forging new relations, she said.

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She made the remarks while interacting with reporters and delivering a speech on the theme “Russia’s war in Ukraine: Why the world should care” at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), a think tank under the external affairs ministry. Dzhaparova also met minister of state for external affairs Meenakshi Lekhi and delivered a letter from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During her speech at ICWA, Dzhaparova reiterated her message of India playing a “greater role” in efforts to end the war in Ukraine. “We respect the decisions of a sovereign country [like] India to build up relations with other countries...But the message of Ukraine is that there should be consideration of a pragmatic approach,” she said.

“Being with Russia – and we are very sincere in saying so – is actually [like] being on the wrong side of history...Supporting Russia and being with Russia means [backing a] medieval vision of the world...I think it might also take some time to build up new relations with Ukraine and I think it should be based on a pragmatic and balanced approach,” she added.

The counter-offensive that Ukraine plans to launch in spring is aimed at gaining a tactical advantage that might facilitate fresh negotiations, she said. She also referred to India’s role as an emerging global power and its G20 presidency and said the country should involve Ukrainian officials in G20 meetings and provide Zelensky an opportunity to address the G20 Summit. She also hoped Indian leaders and officials will visit Ukraine to take forward ties.

Dzhaparova said during her speech and at her interaction with reporters after meeting Lekhi that Ukraine’s military ties with Pakistan, which were developed in the 1990s, were not directed against India’s interests. She said she had presented to the Indian side several proposals for military cooperation, including joint production of drones based on Ukraine’s new-found expertise in this area.

“I think the suggestion that I brought here is to have a better and deeper relationship with India. And it needs reciprocity. We knocked on the door but it is also up to the owner of the house to open the door,” she said.

India has not yet denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintained that the conflict must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.

Lekhi said in a tweet that she and Dzhaparova exchanged views on bilateral and global issues, cultural ties and women’s empowerment. “Ukraine was assured of enhanced humanitarian assistance,” she said. Dzhaparova tweeted that she had briefed Lekhi on Ukraine’s efforts to fight Russia’s unprovoked aggression, and discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in various fields.

Replying to a question from reporters on China’s aggressive behaviour on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, Dzhaparova said: “I think that India and Ukraine are synchronised on the same page...Any act of aggression that might question the territorial integrity of any country is a matter of huge concern.”

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