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Could India be a mediator between Russia and Ukraine?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests


Source: The Indian Express

Context: During his first visit to Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India’s External Affairs Minister expressed strong support for dialogue and diplomacy to restore peace.


India’s reaction to the conflict:

  • Expressed concern without openly condemning Russian actions.
  • Emphasised the importance of the UN Charter – the sanctity of territorial sovereignty.
  • The economic impact of the war on the “Global South” ( Global south refers to the developing and less developed countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. )
  • As a result, India strongly favours a return to dialogue and diplomacy.


Why is India regarded as the best mediator?

  • Neutral player: As India has walked the diplomatic tightrope, it has won credibility on both sides as a mediator between them.
  • Successful diplomatic involvement earlier:
    • Preventing the attack on the nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia in eastern Ukraine.
    • During the Black Sea grain shipment, discussions to intervene with Russia.
  • Leader of Global South: Mexico had suggested that the PM of India, Pope Francis and the UN Secretary-General should mediate the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
  • Good relations with Moscow and the West: India can use this unique leverage to put pressure on Russia to end its war in Ukraine.
  • Geopolitical aspirations: Peace-making might help India gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.


Challenges ahead for India to be a mediator:

  • Understanding the dynamics: Between Russia and Ukraine, Russia and the European players, Ukraine and European partners and move ahead accordingly.
  • Experience: India has effectively negotiated in bilateral and multilateral formats, but negotiating in a crisis is a different question.
  • Risk-taking ability: While India has shown risk-taking abilities in its immediate region (surgical strikes in Pakistan), entering a geopolitical crisis of this size is different.
  • Credibility: The West sees India as closer to Russia, as India keeps buying Russian oil at discounted prices despite the west’s criticism.
  • Cannot afford a slide in relations with Russia:
    • Both India-Russia has strategic ties in nuclear, space, defence, energy, and connectivity – sectors.
    • Russia does not transfer to any other country the military technologies shared with India.
    • Also, India cannot afford a closer strategic relationship between Russia and China.


Conclusion: The Russia-Ukraine crisis has entered a new phase, in which Indian diplomacy could aid in a range of realistic ways to address the stated challenges.


Insta Links:

 Globe-changing reverberations of the Ukraine war


Mains Link:

Q. The Ukraine conflict seems to have reached a deadlock. How can Indian diplomacy participate and contribute to the peace efforts in the Russia-Ukraine war? Examine. (15M)