'Bit of dancing on tightrope', says Shashi Tharoor on India's stand on Russia-Ukraine war

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, March 30, 2022, 09:26 AM IST
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Shashi Tharoor | PTI file photo

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said that India's stand on the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has been a bit of dancing on a tightrope as New Delhi, in the beginning, was indeed unwilling to say anything that will upset Moscow.

He was responding to a question during an interaction held here after inaugurating a three-day photo exhibition, 'Ukraine Untold (Glimpses)', on how the country looked barely a month before the war began.

"India has gone through a very complicated and challenging time in negotiating as it were its own stand on the (Ukraine-Russia) crisis. There is no doubt that India in its very first statement seemed to be a little unwilling to say anything that the Russians will be upset about," he said.

A former UN undersecretary general, Tharoor, on the likely visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to India this week, said, "He will have a tough cause to defend and I am sure the talks that he is going to have in New Delhi will be very interesting".

During his likely visit, the key focus is expected to be on discussions on a payment system for New Delhi's procurement of oil and military hardware from Moscow, people familiar with the developments said on Monday.

The Congress MP, also a former Union minister of external affairs, spoke on the Ukraine-Russia crisis that has garnered huge global support for Kyiv, in the context of violation of sovereignty and UN Charter.

No State will agree on the territory of Ukraine being encroached upon, he said.

On India's stand on the conflict, Tharoor said, "In our subsequent statements while we have continued to abstain at UN, we have been a little more vocal on reiterating the principles and our diplomacy has taken into account the multifarious interests we have to look after".

While with Russia, India has the "dependency" on military relationship, with the West, we have a "warming relationship" and "we can't antagonise them".

"We are a member of Quad and we don't want US to take its eyes off the Indo-Pacific and focus purely on Europe. And then with Ukraine itself, we had to pull out 23,000 Indian citizens, mainly students, in the first few weeks," the Lok Sabha MP said.

"So, because of all these interests, there is a bit of dancing on a tightrope," he added.

In the context of the current situation in Ukraine, he said, as the Indian students have been pulled out and the war hasn't progressed the way Russians would have hoped it to, he expected that India will "calibrate" its steps.

At the same time, Indian diplomacy has been "effective in ensuring" that there is more understanding about the position than it might have been expected, he said.

"Other States might have been given a tougher time, but India matters to many countries," Tharoor said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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