Ahead of the 2-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a barrage of European Foreign Ministers are in Delhi for the annual Raisina Dialogue. Is Ukraine in danger of losing land annexed by Russia permanently? And has the needle of Indian Foreign policy moved at all since 2022?

We get you the picture that emerged at the Ministry of External Affairs’ annual Raisina Dialogue – where 15 of 21 Foreign Ministers gathered were from Europe – and made a strong pitch for India to support Ukraine and to reconsider oil and arms purchases from Russia.

In an interview to German paper Handelsblatt this week Mr. Jaishankar had defended India’s position, saying “Russia has never harmed India’s interests”.

Two years into the Ukraine war – that originally was expected to have been much shorter- here are the 5 things you need to know

Two years after the Russia announced its special operations in Ukraine- If by March 2022 Russia had occupied about 20% of Ukrainian territory, by 2024 it still controls about 17% of it. By the end of the year, estimates say Russia will have spent $132 billion, and lost more than $300 bn due to financial sanctions by the west. But its sales of oil are nearly back to pre-war levels due to countries like China, India and Brazil. 

Ukraine has borne the brunt of the war- tens of thousands dead, more than 14 million displaced, of which 6 million are now refugees living in 11 countries. Cities, infrastructure destroyed, and a constant pressure on its arms and military resources. According to the Ukrainian Dy FM- Ukraine has already suffered $500 bn in losses. It is now applying for membership to the European Union-NATO membership may more complicated

The 2 years of war have shown many faultlines in the west as different countries Debate over funding the war. The US, heading into an uncertain election is seeing pushback in Congress, European countries have seen a more unified voice, but many in Europe are not yet increasing their Defence budgets to the 2% required for Ukraine. One obvious outcome : Finland and Sweden have now joined NATO. There’s also no question that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has brought new schisms, and also exposed some of the double speak of these countries on civilian deaths.

A similar kind of contested unity in the Global South- that largely disapproves of Russia’s actions, but doesn’t agree with the unilateral sanctions imposed on Russia, or the narrative that holds only Russia responsible. At the G20 summit in India last year, the final joint statement did not criticize Russia for the war in any way. And despite western discomfort, 5 new members joined BRICS this year- incl UAE, KSA, Iran, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Is there a UN or multilateral way forward? Russia has ruled out pulling its troops out of entrenched positions- however, at Ukraine’s request, Switzerland is planning a peace Conference in the coming months, and has asked all countries including India to attend, with an eye on possible mediators

Speaking to a US journalist Tucker Carlson last week, here’s what Russian president Putin had said: “Why would we attack Poland? We have simply no interest in Poland, Latvia or any other countries- this is just threat-mongering.”

India’s position

Russia ties – no shift on abstentions at the UN. An increase in Oil procurement so Russia accounts from 30-40% of Oil imports as opposed to less than a percent pre-war. Military Hardware procurement has flagged- due to Russia capacity and payment issues, but bilateral trade is rising. On a political level, PM hasn’t gone to Moscow for 2 years now but EAM Jaishankar did visit in December, and PM Modi is expected to go for the BRICS summit in Moscow in October. Meanwhile no response to the death of Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, despite the chorus of protest from the west.

With Ukraine, New Delhi has been more conservative- while it has provided about 100 tonnes of aid like medicines, water tanks, tents etc, it has not agreed to infrastructural aid Ukraine has requested. No visits by ministers to Kiev, PM Modi met Zelensky in Japan but didn’t invite him to the G20 summit

However, despite this stand, India’s ties with the US and Europe have not been affected, while a few Indian companies have been sanctioned, there is no let up in bilateral engagement from the west, especially Europe- Raisina dialogue being a case in point. And this is seen as a major success for the government

Worldview Take

Two years into the war in Ukraine, Russian annexation of parts of Ukraine that form a buffer zone on its western flank seem impossible to reverse, but so is the damage to its reputation. The US and Europe’s double standards on the killing of civilians, bombardment of hospitals and schools in Ukraine vs Gaza has made its position unsellable to the rest of the world. In all of this, India’s position has delivered its diplomacy a tactical if not a principled win. Pleasing all sides in a war is more difficult in the long run, however.


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