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HomeAsian NewsCan India Rein In Putin’s Worst Impulses in Ukraine? – The Diplomat

Can India Rein In Putin’s Worst Impulses in Ukraine? – The Diplomat

Can India Rein In Putin’s Worst Impulses in Ukraine?

India’s Overseas Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar along with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov after conferences in Moscow, Russia on November 8, 2022.

Credit score: Twitter/DrSJaishankar

Forward of Indian Overseas Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s go to to Moscow this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin was engaged in a big however welcome flip-flop in Ukraine.

Late final month, Putin accused Ukraine of attacking Russia’s naval fleet and suspended a deal that allowed Ukrainian grain to transit by the Black Sea. However 4 days later, Putin backtracked on that risk and stated that the deal was again on.

Putin’s excuse was that he had acquired assurances from Ukraine that it received’t use the grain hall to assault Russian forces. However in a provocative and insightful essay for the Washington Publish, army historian Max Boot argued that the U-turn might need been provoked by diplomacy from unlikely quarters. “It appears to be like as if Putin buckled to strain from Turkey and, extra broadly, from growing nations that depend on Ukrainian grain to feed their folks,” he wrote. “Putin didn’t need to danger the opprobrium that he would face from sinking cargo ships carrying grain to feed a few of the world’s poorest folks.”

Boot identified that Russia’s burgeoning ties with nations like India, China and Turkey might, in that sense, rein in Putin’s worst impulses – whether or not ravenous thousands and thousands to demise or setting off nuclear weapons. “These nations have loads of leverage with Russia,” he wrote.

It’s not but clear what function India has performed thus far in reining Russia in. On the Shanghai Cooperation Group this September, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to castigate Putin when he instructed him that “as we speak’s period will not be an period of conflict.” In Moscow this week, Jaishankar echoed that assertion and in addition introduced up the difficulty of grain and fertilizer shipments from Ukraine. “The International South, particularly, is feeling this ache very acutely,” Jaishankar stated of the conflict’s affect.

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It’s properly attainable that stronger phrases have been used privately. However because the conflict continues to devolve and Russian hardliners rattle the saber at house, India will maybe must deliberate on the place it ought to draw the road on Russia’s aggression.

Thus far, India has remained steadfastly impartial and stoic by copious reviews of Russian conflict crimes in Ukraine, together with the bloodbath in Bucha earlier this yr. However with every passing month, leverage appears to movement each methods.

Earlier than the invasion, Russia was already a key army associate to New Delhi. Now, additionally it is an essential financial associate with a big commerce imbalance in its favor. Bilateral commerce is reported to have gone up by a whopping 310 % for the reason that invasion – the most important improve amongst any of Russia’s main commerce companions. But, India’s exports to Russia have fallen by 19 % whereas imports have soared 430 %. Extra importantly, Russia now accounts for a file 23 % of India’s oil imports, up from a share of simply 2 % earlier than the invasion.

This yr, because the West tightened monetary sanctions on Moscow, Russia grew to become the first nation to provoke rupee-based commerce with India by a particular Vostro account. It additionally now accounts for India’s highest commerce deficit – over $20 billion, second solely to China.

For New Delhi, these financial elements aren’t straightforward to low cost, it doesn’t matter what Putin does in Ukraine. Final month, the Worldwide Financial Fund downgraded India’s anticipated financial progress for this yr and the subsequent, citing “weakening of exterior demand and a tightening of financial and monetary circumstances.” In the meantime, massive elements of the Indian financial system additionally present indicators of weak home demand and confidence within the aftermath of the pandemic.

These dynamics had been seen in Moscow throughout Jaishankar’s go to this week. On his journey, the Indian overseas minister took with him a sizable contingent, comprising officers chargeable for all the things from agriculture, petroleum and ports, to chemical compounds, fertilizers and finance.

When requested about India’s continued import of oil from Russia, Jaishankar candidly conceded that New Delhi has little wiggle room or leverage on the matter. “[As] the world’s third largest client of oil and fuel – a client the place the degrees of earnings aren’t very excessive – it’s our elementary obligation to make sure that the Indian client has the very best entry on probably the most advantageous phrases to worldwide markets,” he stated.

For months, analysts throughout the West have been hoping that India would mediate purposefully in Ukraine or no less than use its relationship with Putin to rein him in. However because the invasion has gone on, it’s turning into more and more unclear how New Delhi can ever try this.



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