Alok Kumar Pathak
India has always extended its helping hands to countries in need whether it be Asian or Western and in many critical conditions such as Covid-19, a very recent health and economic crisis of the world. It stretched a hand in fighting with coronavirus to many countries by transporting masks and vaccines. Similarly, it never stepped backward in providing refuge to refugees from different nations whether it be Afghans or Rohingya. It has always tried to maintain balanced bilateral relations with other nations. It has always stood against violence and war through mediation and negotiation whenever war-like situation has occurred between other nations.
China has maintained its relation with other countries diplomatically. It has financially helped poor countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Africa etc.but behind helping these countries to develop their infrastructure, educational zone and other developments it has its own national interests.
In the recent war between Russia and Ukraine, some countries raised their voices against the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine such as US criticised Russia. Whereas there are other countries who did not say it directly but showed their indirect support to Ukraine as well as Russia by standing with both the countries in their critical condition. India and China can be counted under this category where both the countries fall under the same page in providing helping hands to Ukraine and not condemning Russia on its invasion of Ukraine.
Not able to Condemn Openly
Both India and China did not support UN vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Ferguson 2022).Reasons behind China’s indirect support to Russia, according to few reports, may lie under its own interest in invading Taiwan. Spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying said in one of his interviewsthat Russia is handling its historical conflicts with Ukraine.
India took its time to take any action in this critical period but it did not try to fuel the fire to make the situation worse. Voting against and in favour would not have brought the ideal solution. Thus, India thought it differently to solve the issue and set a meeting with both the countries and tried to solve the issue with mediation.
Providing Humanitarian help to Ukraine
On a request by Ukraine to send some humanitarian aid, India has sent medical kits, medicines and other relief products (Peri 2022). India’s initiative to provide the required medical facilities to war-torn country has been praised by other countries that it has always helped countries in need (Tandon 2022). Other than medical materials, India has also sent some of the important materials such as blankets, tents, tarpaulin, water storage tanks, surgical gloves etc. (Ukraine Conflict 2022). China, on the other hand, has also helped Ukraine by funding and providing essential products. Meanwhile it also states that it shares a strong relation with Russia, thus, nothing will affect their bond. Both the countries India and China import oil and gas largely from Russia. Recently, China has stated that its humanitarian support to Ukraine will not affect it trading relationship with Russia as it will continue to maintain its strong relationship with Russia (Woo 2022).
Abstentions at UN Meeting
Some countries came under the list of abstentions in first two UN meetings regarding Russia and Ukraine war such as India, China, Pakistan, Sudan and Venezuela (India abstains 2022). Abstaining from voting caused criticism from big countries. US criticised India and China for not opposing Russia directly on its invasion of Ukraine. But India has tried to bring peace between both the countries through conciliation as it was concerned about Indians stranded in Ukraine. It brought Indians safely back to their homeland, besides, it also helped other neighbourhood countries’ people intaking them back to their home countries. It showed its neutral side by not condemning Russia openly as well as it also sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Being a good trading and political partner of Russia and Ukraine, India tried its best to help both the countries in their difficult situation. Rather, it also made its effort to stop the war by holding meeting with Russia and Ukraine.
China did not vote against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in UN meeting (Magnier 2022). It too remained silent after looking into the situation because it was a critical period and taking a decision quickly might had brought some unwelcoming situations to the country. On one side, it stood with Russia and continued its trading relationship by importing energy resources and on the other side, it helped Ukraine by sending humanitarian aids.
Opposing American Hegemony
US is powerful country in every terms. It has maintained its power through economy and military. But other countries have come forth by challenging its hegemonic factors. China has grown its economy, military and technology power rapidly thus, it stands against the biggest and developed country US. It completely faces off the US hegemony by running itself parallelly with the growth of US (Paudel 2020). With its strong bilateral relationship with Russia, China has already taken a powerful country on its side that will help in any war like consequences of China with any country. Moreover, it has built good relations with its neighbour poor countries by helping them developing their infrastructure and economy.
In a whole, both India and China find themself on the same page in taking stands regarding Russia and Ukraine war. Both the countries took their decisions wisely according to their national interests. India, tried to solve the conflict by arranging a meeting with Russia and Ukraine, therefore, it played a crucial role and it did not only worried about its national interest but it was also concerned about the situation of both the countries. It also helped other countries’people stranded in Ukraine to reach their homelands safely. India and China continued their trading relationship with Russia by purchasing larger amount of energy resources. And also, they have sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Fergusan, Kate. 2022. “Fury as India and China abstain on UN vote to condemn invasion of Ukraine.” The Sun. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17825055/china-india-abstain-un-vote-russian-invasion/
India abstains in UN Human Rights Council vote on Russia-Ukraine crisis. 2022.India Today. https://www.indiatoday.in/world/russia-ukraine-war/story/india-abstains-vote-un-human-rights-commission-russia-aggression-ukraine-crisis-1920794-2022-03-04
Magnier, Mark. 2022. “China does not support UN vote blaming Russia for Ukraine humanitarian crisis.”South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/3171778/ukraine-war-china-does-not-support-un-vote-blaming-russia-humanitarian
Paudel, Sirish. 2020. Decline in US Hegemony: Will this Result in Hegemonic War or not? Modern Diplomacy. https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/09/03/decline-in-us-hegemony-will-this-result-in-hegemonic-war-or-not/
Peri, D., Bhattacherjee, K., &Hebbar, N. 2022. India will send humanitarian assistance to Ukraine: Ministry of External Affairs. The Hindu. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-will-send-humanitarian-assistance-to-ukraine-ministry-of-external-affairs/article65095023.ece
Tanson, Aakansha. 2022. Joe Biden lauds India’s humanitarian aid to Ukraine as PM Modi vows to dispatch more. Republic World. https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/russia-ukraine-crisis/joe-biden-lauds-indias-humanitarian-aid-to-ukraine-as-pm-modi-vows-to-dispatch-more-articleshow.html
Ukraine conflict: India sends first tranche of humanitarian aid. 2022.Business Today. https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/in-focus/story/ukraine-conflict-india-sends-first-tranche-of-humanitarian-aid-324401-2022-03-02
Woo, R. 2022. China to provide Ukraine humanitarian aid, praises Russia ties. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/world/china-provide-ukraine-humanitarian-aid-praises-russia-ties-2022-03-07/
Disclaimer: The above comments and insights solely belongs to the author and may not represent the official view of the BRICS Institute India. The author is an MA student at the dept. of International Relations, Maharaja’s College, University of Mysore, Mysuru.