New Delhi: India, and in effect, its Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is increasingly being seen as one who could broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine. In a win for the Indian delegation to the G20 Summit, Indonesia, a draft communiqué in the world leaders gathering has stated “now is not the time for war”. The same words were told to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in September by Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.
Back then, it was taken as the very first indication of a rebuke to its long-time, historic friend, Russia on its invasion of Ukraine, when Modi told Putin, “I know that today’s era is not of war and we have talked to you many times over the phone on the subject that democracy and diplomacy and dialogue are all these things that touch the world.”
Now, the draft communiqué agreed by diplomats, and confirmed by two delegations, according to the Financial Times, says that: “Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy.”
The FT report in fact states that it was the Indian delegation, which played a big role in achieving consensus among member states over the wording, which has effectively criticized the Russian invasion. The British daily newspaper further stated that the draft communiqué pointed to the war in Ukraine as one which was “constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks.”
India’s position in being able to play a greater diplomatic role in this war has been much talked about, with international dailies reporting on New Delhi’s rising strength. A week before the G20 Summit, an article in the New York Times asked, “Could India Help Broker Peace in Ukraine?”. With the Russia-Ukraine conflict in its 10th month, it is a question one would hope has a positive response.
The NYT article pointed to specific actions that India took helping the situation between Russia and Ukraine, including in July, “when a critical deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to free up millions of pounds of desperately needed Ukrainian grain”. India, it said, played an important behind-the-scenes role in helping sell the plan to Russia, which had been blockading the grain ships.
Russia however, blames the “unilateral” sanctions against it and its ports which have hampered food supply. Moving on though, the NYT also spoke of how again, two months later, when Russian forces were shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, India stepped in and asked Russia to back off.
But The Guardian newspaper, another British daily, said that while “traditional allies” India and China, “both voiced concern about the war”, it did so “without breaking from their previous defence of Moscow.” It went on to quote Modi, who reportedly said it was necessary to recognise that the United Nations had failed as a multilateral institution, which put greater pressure on the G20 to find solutions.
During the G20 summit though – which forms a group of 20 nations accounting for around 80 percent of global economic output, and nearly 75 percent of global exports – on November 15, Modi again urged a return to diplomacy to end the Russia-Ukraine war.
In his opening remarks in the Summit being held in Bali, Indonesia, Modi said “I have repeatedly said that we have to find a way to return to the path of ceasefire and diplomacy in Ukraine”. Adding that “The need of the hour is to show concrete and collective resolve to ensure peace, harmony and security in the world.”