New York, February 24: The Indian representative T.S.Tirumurti has told the UN Security Council that the security interests of all parties in the dispute over Ukraine must be taken care of.
The representative called upon all parties to be restrained in their action as without restraint the situation will spiral out of control and destabilize the region and beyond.
India does not join U.S., U.K., Germany, other United Nations Security Council countries in criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration
India said it is watching the latest developments along Ukraine’s eastern border and Russia’s recognition of separatist states in the Donbas region “with deep concern”, but stopped short of criticising Moscow’s actions, during a debate at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on February 22.
Speaking at the start of the emergency session that was called immediately following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration on Monday night, India’s U.N. Permanent Representative called for restraint and diplomatic dialogue.
“The immediate priority is de-escalation of tensions taking into account the legitimate security interests of all countries and aimed towards securing long-term peace and stability in the region and beyond,” said Mr. Tirumurti, repeating New Delhi’s previous position where it had chosen not to join Western calls for action against Russia. In contrast, the U.K., U.S., European countries, and Kenya called Russia’s decision an attack on Ukrainian sovereignty, and promised sanctions and other actions.
UN Secretary General issues strong statement
Separately, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres also issued a strong statement, saying he was “greatly concerned by Russia’s decision on the status of certain areas of the Donetsk & Luhansk regions of Ukraine”.
“We remain fully supportive of the sovereignty, independence & territorial integrity of Ukraine, within internationally recognised borders,” Mr. Guteres added.
Reaffirming India’s position that the situation must be resolved on the basis of the “Minsk Agreements” of 2014-2015, which had not yet been implemented, Mr. Tirumurti said India welcomed talks under the Trilateral Contact Group including Russia, Ukraine and members of the OSCE in Europe, as well as the Normandy Format of talks between Russia and Ukraine along with Germany and France, and said “constructive diplomacy is the need of the hour”.
Mr. Tirumurti also called the safety of about 20,000 Indians studying and working in Ukraine a “priority” for the government. The government has issued a number of travel advisories asking Indian citizens to leave Ukraine temporarily. Families of Indian diplomats have also been asked to return to India in the light of the situation, and Air India is operating commercial flights to Kiev this week to facilitate their departure.
“The safety and security of civilians are essential,” Mr. Tirumurti added, calling for “all sides to maintain international peace and security by exercising the utmost restraint and intensifying diplomatic efforts”.
Welcoming India’s ‘independent’ stand at the Security Council on its moves on eastern Ukraine, Russia’s acting Ambassador said the new sanctions imposed on Russia would not affect delivery of the S-400 missile system and other defence equipment India has purchased.
He also stressed that the ongoing visit by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to Moscow would in no way affect ties between India and Russia, adding that the Pakistan-Russia partnership does not envisage a defence relationship at present, and Russia stands firm on its policy that Kashmir is a bilateral dispute.
A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the recognition of two eastern Ukrainian enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk, the diplomat set out the Russian position behind the move that has sparked outrage worldwide, and attracted punitive financial sanctions and severe condemnation from the U.S., the European Union, the U.K., Japan and Australia.
At the Security Council, U.N. Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti had said India has “deep concerns” about the developments in the region, stopping short of criticising Russian actions.
“Russia welcomes the Indian position expressed several times in this regard [Ukraine] because India is acting according to its status of a global power and takes a balanced and independent position,” said Roman Babushkin, Charge d’Affaires at the Russian Embassy in Delhi. He said the two countries had discussed the situation at various bilateral and multilateral levels, including at the U.N., and that “Indian partners are well aware and clearly understand why this [Mr. Putin’s announcement] happened. Mr. Babushkin even suggested that, in time, Russia hopes that its friends and partners “including India” would also recognise the “new republics” of Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
According to the Russian diplomat, U.S.’s new financial sanctions, in addition to previous sanctions like the CAATSA law, would have no bearing on the $5–billion S-400 missile system agreement, which is being delivered to India. “The project is being implemented according to our agreements and timelines discussed, and sanctions would not affect this.”