What lessons for India from the Ukraine crisis

India has a difficult choice to make in taking sides in the Ukraine crisis and has taken a calculated risk by giving an impression of being neutral

India has a difficult choice to make in taking sides in the Ukraine crisis and has taken a calculated risk by giving an impression of being neutral
India has a difficult choice to make in taking sides in the Ukraine crisis and has taken a calculated risk by giving an impression of being neutral

The biggest lesson is hidden for India in the Russia-Ukraine crisis

When Ukraine President spoke to Indian Prime Minister Modi over the telephone, it is reported that Ukraine President sought India’s political support for Ukraine in the present hour of the grave crisis faced by it. It is further reported that Mr. Modi responded to the appeal by stating that war and hostility should end in Ukraine immediately and was further reported to have offered India’s services to mediate peace between Ukraine and Russia. It appears that Mr. Modi was eloquently silent by not offering political support to Ukraine.

One wonders as to what would have been the thought process of Mr. Modi in his mindset when he was speaking to Ukraine President over the telephone. Obviously, Mr. Modi must have been wondering whether India too would have to face a similar situation as faced by Ukraine now, in the event of war with China/ Pakistan.

Most nations have sympathized with Ukraine and offered sort of lip support but are unwilling to intervene with military force with the strength to save Ukraine from occupation. Of course, US and NATO countries have responded to the Ukraine crisis by extending sanctions against Russia, even though it is still not clear as to what extent they would go in imposing the sanctions, in view of the dependence of several NATO countries on Russia for their energy (crude oil and natural gas) requirement.

India has two hostile neighbours namely China and Pakistan and India shares long borders with these two countries. China and Pakistan have not concealed their hostility towards India and are claiming Indian territory as their own, with Pakistan occupying a substantial area of Kashmir (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) and China occupying thousands of kilometers of Indian territory and still claiming more areas like Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India. Both these hostile neighbours have used every opportunity to nag India and oppose India in several world forums.

There is a grim possibility of China and Pakistan joining together and starting an armed confrontation with India at any time in the future.

If and when such confrontation would take place in a big way, what sort of support India would get from other countries?

In all probability, Russia would stay neutral to avoid antagonizing China, just as India stood neutral in the United Nations Security Council when a resolution was sought to be passed condemning Russia.

In the case of other countries like the USA, countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, almost all these countries would express their concern in the event of military conflict between India on one hand and Pakistan and China on the other but would not go beyond this and would refrain from coming to India’s support in any significant way. All these countries would be more interested in protecting their trade relations with China and therefore, would ensure that China would not be displeased. Of course, UNO would pass a cosmetic resolution asking India, China, and Pakistan to refrain from military conflict and resolve the issues.

In the case of Ukraine, USA and Europe voiced their strong support for Ukraine, in view of the geopolitical issues in Europe. However, in the case of a military war between India and China/ Pakistan, India would not get even this level of support.

The possibility of this grim situation would have been weighing in the mind of Mr. Modi when he was speaking to the President of Ukraine over the telephone.

In the case of Ukraine, Russia supported some divisive and secessionist forces in Ukraine and extended recognition to two regions in Ukraine as an independent country.

In the case of India too, there are reports of some groups getting support from China and Pakistan to create conflicts in India, using the conditions of democracy and freedom of speech in the country. Therefore, just as it happened in Ukraine, in the case of India too, China and Pakistan can create internal issues for the government.

In such a situation, there is no option for India other than strengthening its military base with modern and sophisticated equipment. One can be sure that the Modi government is taking the necessary steps to strengthen the military base. Still, this remains a question as to what extent, India could build military capability to confront China.

It is reported that India not supporting the UNSC resolution against Russia has displeased many countries, as the emerging world view is that Russia’s military actions in Ukraine should be condemned and Russia should be made to leave Ukraine.

Though India claims that it has not supported Russia but stayed neutral by abstaining from voting in UNSC, the perception around the world is India has supported Russia for all practical purposes. This action of the Modi government could certainly turn the world opinion against India, in the event of a war-like situation with China/ Pakistan.

The fact is Modi government has a difficult choice to make in taking sides in the Ukraine crisis and has taken a calculated risk by giving an impression of being neutral.

The President of Ukraine has made it more difficult for Mr. Modi now, by calling him over the telephone and seeking political support, in a condition where the overwhelming sympathy for Ukraine all over the world is very much evident.

When Prime Minister Modi finished telephone talk with the President of Ukraine, a thought must have crossed his mind at least momentarily, about the plight of Tibet at the hands of China and as to how the entire world let down Tibet at the time of its grave crisis, when Chinese troops massacred innocent Tibetans. Then, India too let down Tibet just as India has now let down Ukraine by remaining neutral in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.

1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

PGurus is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with all the latest news and views

For all the latest updates, download PGurus App.


  1. I read whole article, its good one but heading is somewhat wrong. Where is the lesson for India, the things which have been told in article is already been known to half of indians my friend, so that`s not the lesson. We all know that in case of war no body supports you. Every country is depended on other in this world in one or the other way, so no country would like to disturb its own business unless it sees a bigger oppertunity. Let India practice in gym before entering into the boxing arena.

  2. IMHO, the issues are not as simple as made out in this article.

    1. Let’s look at it from the angle of who’s right and who’s wrong.
    While Russia has gone to war, and is clearly the aggressor, and is seen as one, it was the US and EU which egged on Ukraine to take on Russia and provoke Russia, to the point of threatening Russia’s security. Unlike US, EU, Ukraine, etc, Russia doesn’t have much external support to fall back upon. China, if at all, will support but at a heavy price. So, Russia, fairly isolated as it is, had to take care of its long, medium and short term interests. So, honestly speaking, provocation was from Ukraine’s side (incl US and EU), and Russia was in a way, forced to go to war. Am I justifying Russia? No. Even an ‘otherwise sober’ dog, when pushed to a corner, will jump at you. Will you hold the dog responsible for jumping at us, or hold ourselves responsible for pushing it to a corner and provoking it?

    2. Now, let’s look at it from the angle of self interest.
    When was the last time the US, EU, UK and Ukraine stood by us against China and Pak? And if China and/ or Pak were to wage a war against us, do we expect the US, EU, UK and Ukraine, to support us? We have to fight our own battles. The arrangements like the Quad won’t help much.

    And how about Russia? It has been an almost all-weather friend. Of course, in a conflict with China, it won’t take a position. Will the US or UK or Ukraine help? No way.

    In view of the above, why should we take a position on an issue which is anyway not in our backyard?

    Unfortunately, given our geopolitical position, we have to fend for ourselves anyway.

    We’ll not be justified in supporting Ukraine, either because they are right and Russia is wrong (which is not the case; both are wrong), or because they have stood by us in times of our need (in fact, the opposite is true).

    All decisions come with consequences, no doubt, and none of the outcomes may be desirable. We have Hobson’s choice.

    The only justification to support Ukraine, if at all, can be because most of the rest of the world is supporting Ukraine, and we could be afraid of taking a different position.

    Just to clarify: We are not taking a position in favour of Russia, but just staying neutral.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here