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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

In effort to court Russia’s friends, Ukraine invites India’s prime minister to Kyiv

Ukranian soldiers in the strategic port city of Odessa, as they continued to anticipate and prepare for a Russian attack.

By Mujib Mashal

A senior Ukrainian official visiting New Delhi invited India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, to visit Ukraine and urged India, an ally of Russia, to play a more active role in trying to resolve the conflict.

Emine Dzhaparova, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister and the most senior official to visit New Delhi since the war began, implored India to “not escape discussion about Ukraine” and to intensify its political dialogue at the highest levels.

“We believe that India should be engaged and involved in the Ukraine issue to a greater extent,” Dzhaparova said in an interview with the CNBC-TV18 news channel.

Modi did not immediately respond to the invitation to visit Ukraine and see the impact of the war firsthand.

India is one of several Russian allies that has tried to walk a middle path after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, avoiding outright condemnation of the Russian aggression while also urging dialogue to end the conflict. Ukraine, for its part, has been courting some of those allies, including China’s leader, Xi Jinping, in an attempt to halt any additional support for Russia’s war effort and, potentially, find an effective negotiator who could help end the conflict.

India’s ties with Russia run deep. For decades, Russia was a reliable source for cheap weapons when the United States was still cold toward India. After Russia invaded Ukraine, as the United States and Europe imposed sanctions on Russia and reduced their reliance on Russian oil, India exploited that opening to purchase more cheap Russian oil, an outlay that is helping Russian President Vladimir Putin finance the conflict.

Ukrainian officials have expressed frustration at India’s oil purchases. Last fall, Ukraine’s foreign minister said “the discount has to be paid by Ukrainian blood.”

During her visit, Dzhaparova took a softer approach.

“We are not in the position of instructing India in its economic ties with other countries,” she said in response to reporter questions after meeting with her Indian counterpart. “We only think that it is crucial to diversify all the resources, not just energy but also military resources.”

The conflict is overshadowing India’s presidency of the Group of 20 as it tries to get the world’s largest economies to agree on an ambitious development agenda. Last month, Amitabh Kant, India’s chief coordinator for the Group of 20, urged Europe to “find a solution” to the war, saying the world had to move on because the conflict was holding down the poorest in a particularly difficult post-COVID period.

Dzhaparova used the same argument to urge India to engage more, saying the war had broader ramifications beyond Europe.

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