The Ukraine-Russia War and India’s Interests

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On 26 December 2022, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenski had a telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Zelenski stated that one of the main topics of his meeting with Modi was the “peace formula” and that he was waiting for India’s contributions. In this context, the President of Ukraine said that India can take a more active diplomatic responsibility in stopping Russia and that it is important to strengthen Ukraine-India cooperation for global stability in the world.[1]

As will be remembered, Zelenski spoke about his vision of a “formula of peace” in his online speech at the G20 summit held in November 2022. The “peace formula” included a ten-point phase, including ensuring Ukraine’s nuclear, energy and food security, as well as cessation of conflict and restoring the country’s territorial integrity.[2]

At this point, it should be noted that India also exhibits a peaceful approach. As a matter of fact, Modi, who met with Putin on September 16, 2022, said, “Democracy, diplomacy, dialogue: these are important tools for us to find a solution. Peace is needed in the future and I am sure we have the opportunity for that.”[3] In a phone call with Putin on 16 December 2022, the Prime Minister of India stated that the only way to end the war is “dialogue and diplomacy”.[4]

As it is known, India follows the policy of neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine War. According to the Moscow administration, this attitude of New Delhi is not in line with Russia’s interests. Because the Kremlin expects political support from India. As a member of the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russia wants India to act together in the fight against Western hegemony. Because Moscow, which supports India’s membership of the SCO despite Beijing’s objections, wishes New Delhi to show the necessary loyalty in return for this “gesture”.

India has an objective reason for adopting a neutral stance on the war. Because India’s global goals and Russia’s strategy do not coincide. The Moscow administration thinks that it is struggling with the American hegemony and as a result of this struggle, a multipolar world order will be established in which India will also be the leader. New Delhi, on the other hand, does not have such a struggle, and the biggest security problem for India stems from Pakistan and China. Unlike Russia, India wants to improve its relations with the USA. The Washington administration’s policy of containment and balancing China also contributes to New Delhi’s regional policy. Therefore, the cooperation developed with the USA provides extremely strategic benefits to India.

Knowing the global policy of India, Zelenski demands that the country in question end its relations with Russia. Zelensky’s main aim is to draw India to his side and further isolate Russia. However, India wants to continue its cooperation with Russia in some areas. First of all, New Delhi is in favor of continuing oil purchases. In the past few months, India has become Russia’s largest oil buyer in Asia. Petroleum, which is imported 30% cheaper than the market price, makes a serious contribution to the country’s economy.

Implementation of ceiling prices for Russian oil forces suppliers to make record discounts. As a matter of fact, the cost of Ural oil, Russia’s main export class, in Indian ports decreased to the minimum level in December 2022 and remained far below the ceiling price imposed by Western countries. Taking into account taxes and duties, as well as insurance and delivery costs, in some cases it can be said that producers sell raw materials at a loss.[5]

India’s biggest concern is the possibility of using nuclear weapons, which negatively affects its relations with Russia. Although India had nuclear weapons long before Pakistan, it did not threaten its neighbor with nuclear weapons. It is possible to state that the normalization of threats regarding the use of nuclear weapons has created discomfort in New Delhi.

As a result, the proposal of Kiev to assign a role to India and to contribute to Ukraine’s problems by keeping a distance from its relations with Russia is unlikely to be accepted by India.

[1] “Зеленский рассказал о переговорах с премьером Индии”, Lenta.Ru,, (Date of Accession: 28.12.2022).

[2] ““Не будет никаких “Минск-3” – Зеленский на саммите G20 озвучил условия прекращения войны”, Gazeta,Ua., (Date of Accession: 28.12.2022).

[3] “Моди сказал Путину, что сейчас «не эра войны»”, Kommersant,, (Date of Accession: 28.12.2022).

[4] “Моди в разговоре с Путиным призвал к диалогу по Украине”, TASS,, (Date of Accession: 28.12.2022).

[5]  “Индия начала покупать российскую нефть по минимальной цене”, Lenta.Ru,, (Date of Accession: 28.12.2022).

Lisans öğrenimini Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde tamamlayan Dr. Sabir Askeroğlu, yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda almıştır. Doktora eğitimini İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda tamamlayan Dr. Askeroğlu, çeşitli düşünce kuruluşlarında görev yapmıştır. Başlıca ilgi alanları, Avrasya çalışmaları ve Rus dış politikası olan Dr. Askeroğlu, iyi derecede Rusça ve İngilizce bilmektedir.