Ukraine Conflict
Moscow launched a special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022 with the aim of saving the people of Donbass - primarily the Russian-speaking population - from Kiev's constant attacks.

Zelensky's ‘Peace Formula’ Unlikely to Garner Support in India, Despite Western Prodding

© AP Photo / Evan VucciUS President Joe Biden, centre, walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral during an unannounced visit, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023.
US President Joe Biden, centre, walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral during an unannounced visit, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 06.03.2024
Efforts by western powers to lobby India and other developing countries behind Ukraine’s one-sided “peace formula” are finding little resonance in India.
The Western powers are likely to actively prod the Global South (in fact, the global majority) to try and pressure Russia to endorse the terms of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s peace plan at a meeting scheduled to be held in Switzerland in coming months.
The so-called peace plan has been rejected by Russia as unrealistic.
A similar meeting to lobby support for Kiev’s cause took place in Davos in January. New Delhi was represented by deputy National Security Advisor Vikram Misri, while Chinese representatives didn’t attend the meeting at all.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has on several occasions said that New Delhi supports direct talks between all the “all the stakeholders” to resolve the Ukraine conflict, indicating an opposition to Western efforts to keep Moscow out from them.
“We have said this at various levels, at the highest levels that India desires that there be discussion, there be diplomacy, there be constant engagement…so that both sides can come together and find a solution for peace. So, our position is maintained. That is our position. We have articulated it at the highest levels,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal told a regular news briefing in New Delhi last week.
Experts have told Sputnik India that a flurry of visits from Europe to New Delhi in coming weeks point to the fact that the West will keep trying to pressure India to influence its stance.

‘India Will Never Back Zelensky's Peace Plan’: Military Veteran

Brigadier V Mahalingam, an Indian Army veteran and a defence analyst, told Sputnik India that New Delhi would never support the western peace plan for Ukraine, regardless of any amount of western pressure.

"As far as India is concerned, it is very much aware of the entire situation. At the United Nations, India has voted quite clearly and correctly in every resolution pertaining to Ukraine. India is acting in a manner which doesn't harm Russian interests. It is also ensuring to toe a balanced line as far as ties with the US are concerned. India is going to continue to exercise strategic autonomy in its foreign policy,” Mahalingam emphasised.

He noted a recent statement by Indian External Affairs (EAM) S Jaishankar pointing to the fact that Russia has never “harmed” Indian interests at any point of time in history. The Brigadier said that the US, on the other hand, had “damaged its reputation” in the eyes of the public of Global South nations because of its policies in Ukraine and Gaza.

Peace Only Feasible Through ‘Just and Equitable Deal’: Ex-Diplomat

Ambassador Anil Trigunayat, a former Indian envoy to Jordan, Libya and Malta, underlined that New Delhi has always priortised “peace over conflict through dialogue and diplomacy”.

“It is also a given that the peace dividend is only possible if there is a just and equitable deal,” stated the career diplomat. He noted that the spillovers of the Ukraine conflict and of late, the Gaza conflict, have “adversely affected” India in terms of supply chain disruptions in several areas.

“Hence, an early resolution is warranted,” Trigunayat asserted. He, however, cautioned that “the current state of play and jingoism in international discourse on all sides” makes the prospect of achieving durable peace a distant possibility, unless “both the sides are on the same page”.

‘Eventual Solution to Ukraine Conflict Has to be Backed by Russia’

According to Mahalingam, the “eventual solution to resolve the conflict will likely be on the lines of what Russia has always advocated, which is to get a guarantee that Ukraine should be a neutral country and would not join NATO (an openly anti-Russia bloc).
Russia was very much on “the top of affairs on the battleground”, he said, pointing to the recent advances of Russian forces in Avdeyevka.
The Indian Army veteran opined that recent reports suggesting that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies such as Germany and France could get directly involved in Ukraine or weren’t interested in holding direct talks with the Russian leadership were part of western negotiation tactics.
“The US and the West might be trying to get into a position of strength ahead of possible negotiations with Russia on Ukraine, which have to happen. I sense that there is a concerted effort by the Biden administration to reverse some of its policies, which includes supporting Zelensky with billions of dollars in military aid,” Mahalingam reckoned.
The resignation announcement of the US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who is viewed as the architect of Biden’s hawkish policy towards Russia, reflected that Washington could well be on path of “course correction”.
Mahalingam gave three reasons for Biden’s apparent and possibly an imminent U-turn on its continued support to Ukraine, which has run in hundreds of billions of dollars.
“Ex US President Trump’s growing popularity as he is all but likely to win the Republican nomination for the presidential election after sweeping Super Tuesday is a major factor,” the Indian expert said.
There is also increasing realisation in Europe that it has hurt its own interests by toeing the American line on Ukraine, including through the implementation of anti-Russia sanctions which have proven to be counterproductive.

“What’s worse for Zelensky is that he is tanking in popularity in Ukraine as well and there are reports that the West may be seeking to replace him,” the Indian pundit said, referring to a recent opinion poll that the Ukrainian leader would lose if an election were to be held today.

The very fact that European nations had accepted the incoming visit of China's FM Wang Yi to Germany, Spain and France could mean that “Europe and Washington are no longer on the same page [regarding] the support for Ukraine”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the conference Euromaidan: Ukraine's Lost Decade in Moscow - Sputnik India, 1920, 16.02.2024
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