Defense and strategic expert Ghazala Wahab holds that “from India’s perspective, abstention from voting was the only possible position on the conflict. It cannot openly oppose or support either side.”
But Myra MacDonald is not convinced. “As a matter of principle, India should be supporting Ukraine against the unjustified Russian invasion. This would be in line with a long-standing Indian position that national sovereignty must be respected,” she said, adding, “Where I see India going wrong is in allowing self-interest to bleed into its discussion on the principle, to the point of either finding excuses for Russia’s conduct or running through a litany of grievances about the West.”
Is India dependent on Russia? Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) recorded that 49.4 percent of India’s arms imports between 2016 and 2020 were from Russia. Most military equipment have long service life and cannot be changed overnight, thus requiring servicing, spares and upgrades, explains Wahab.
“More importantly, the Indian military has a comfort factor with Russian equipment, largely contracted through government-to- government agreements. So, even though we have diversified arms purchase, Russia remains our largest source,” she added.
Academician Radha Kumar however points out, “We would have been better off siding with the majority of member-states in the UN and it would certainly have generated more goodwill for the military transition away from Russian dependence.”
Former Ambassador Vishnu Prakash believes India is no longer as dependent on Russia as before. “If you look at the data, our dependence on Russia has come down drastically. We are opening up and would very much want to have options,” he said.
India’s QUAD dilemma: After India joined the QUAD, the Chinese were quick to react and said that the military alliance has been formed to target other countries and also denounced the Quad as a Cold War construct and a clique.
Force Magazine Editor and defense and strategic expert Ghazala Wahab warns that post the Russia-Ukraine war, the world will throw up many surprises and challenges. “It is too early to say if QUAD will be the future or something else,” she felt.
(The writer is an independent journalist)