President Vladimir Putin thanked India for taking a “restrained and objective” stand on Russia’s muscle flexing in Ukraine.
Addressing a joint meeting of the Russian Parliament on Tuesday on the occasion of Crimea’s reunification with Russia Mr. Putin singled out China and India as the countries that showed understanding for Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
“We are grateful to all those who understood our actions in Crimea,” Mr. Putin said. “We are grateful to the people of China, whose leadership sees the situation in Crimea in all its historical and political integrity. We highly appreciate India’s restraint and objectivity.”
India did not join the Western powers’ condemnation of Russia’s intervention in Crimea and kept a low profile on the issue.
The Ministry of External Affairs on March 6 issued neutral comment expressing concern for the fate of “more than 5000 Indian nationals” in Ukraine and called for “sincere and sustained diplomatic efforts to ensure that issues between Ukraine and its neighbouring countries are resolved through constructive dialogue”.
National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon gave a clearer indication of where India’s sympathies lied when he said in reply to a question, “There are legitimate Russian and other interests involved and we hope they are discussed and resolved.”
India has not reacted to the Ukrainian Ambassador’s request to recognise the new interim government in Kiev and to voice “support against the Russian invasion”.
China was the only U.N. Security Council member to abstain on a U.S.-tabled draft resolution criticising Russia for Crimea. Thirteen Security Council members supported the resolution, which was vetoed by Russia.
At the height of the crisis Mr. Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed on telephone “from close positions” the Ukraine standoff, according to the Kremlin.