India calls for 'purposeful engagement' by Russia, Ukraine in peace talks

India’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. calls for unimpeded humanitarian access to areas of armed conflict in Ukraine.

March 30, 2022 10:55 am | Updated 11:10 am IST - United Nations

Ukrainian evacuees wait for transport at the Medyka border crossing, after they crossed the Ukrainian-Polish border, southeastern Poland, on March 29, 2022.

Ukrainian evacuees wait for transport at the Medyka border crossing, after they crossed the Ukrainian-Polish border, southeastern Poland, on March 29, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP

India has called for a “purposeful engagement” by Russia and Ukraine in the ongoing talks and expressed hope that an understanding can be reached soon towards immediate de-escalation of tensions.

Russia and Ukraine held the latest round of talks on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in Istanbul. Moscow said that it will significantly scale back military operations near Ukraine's capital and a northern city, as the outlines of a possible deal to end the grinding war which started on February 24.

“India remains deeply concerned at the ongoing situation, which continues to deteriorate since the beginning of the hostilities,” India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations T.S. Tirumurti said.

A Ukrainian special police officer walks next to a destroyed building as he patrols during night curfew in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 27, 2022.

A Ukrainian special police officer walks next to a destroyed building as he patrols during night curfew in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 27, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

De-escalating tensions

Speaking at the UN Security Council briefing on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine on Tuesday, Mr. Tirumurti reiterated India’s call for unimpeded humanitarian access to areas of armed conflict in Ukraine.

Amid the latest round of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, Mr. Tirumurti said India calls for “purposeful engagement by both sides in the ongoing talks.

“We hope that an understanding could be reached soon. It is clearly in our collective interest to find a solution that can provide for immediate de-escalation of tensions aimed at securing long-term peace and stability in the region and beyond,” he said.

The nearly month-long war has led to the loss of thousands of lives and displaced ten million people, mainly women and children. US Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the conflict has led to the systematic destruction of essential infrastructure, and skyrocketing food and energy prices worldwide.

Economic impact

Mr. Tirumurti also noted that the conflict is already having an impact on the global economy, especially in many developing countries, through the disruption of supply chains.

“Its adverse impact on energy and commodity prices is evident,” he said.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, addressing the Council said that Russia’s ceaseless bombardment of Ukraine’s cities and critical infrastructure has created one of the fastest-growing humanitarian crises in recent decades.

She said the impacts of President Vladimir Putin’s “war are being felt far beyond Ukraine’s borders, as well – with some of the most immediate and dangerous implications for global food security. As has been said, Ukraine and Russia are both major agricultural producers. Thirty per cent of the world’s wheat exports typically come from the Black Sea region, as do 20 per cent of the world’s corn and 75 per cent of sunflower oil.”

Ms. Sherman asserted that the fact remains that “so long as Putin continues his war, so long as Russian forces continue to bombard Ukrainian cities and block aid convoys, so long as besieged civilians are unable to get to safety, this humanitarian crisis will only get worse – in Ukraine, for the Russian people, and around the world.” Sherman said the Russian government is blaming U.S., allies, and partner sanctions for increasing food costs around the world.

“But the facts – the facts – colleagues, are clear: Sanctions aren’t preventing grain from leaving Ukraine’s ports; Putin’s war is.

And Russia’s own food and agricultural exports are not under sanction by the US or by our allies and partners. The responsibility for waging war on Ukraine – and for the war’s effects on global food security – falls solely on President Putin."

India stressed the urgent need to address the humanitarian needs of the affected population and noted the decision by the EU countries who have agreed to permit-free transit of humanitarian carriers to Ukraine.

India’s aid to Ukraine

In view of the dire humanitarian situation unfolding in Ukraine, Mr. Tirumurti said India has already sent over 90 tonnes of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine and its neighbours. These supplies include medicines and other essential relief materials for refugees.

“We are providing more humanitarian assistance in the coming days, especially through the supply of essential medicines,” he said, expressing hope that the international community will continue to respond positively to the humanitarian needs of the people of Ukraine, including by extending generous support to the Secretary General's flash appeal and the Regional Refugee Response Plan on Ukraine.

He underscored that it is important that humanitarian action is always guided by the principles of humanitarian assistance, which is humanity neutrality, impartiality, and independence, embedded as they are at the heart of UN Guiding Principles of Humanitarian Assistance. “These measures should not be politicised,” he said.

India reiterated its call for an immediate cessation of hostilities across Ukraine, with Mr. Tirumurti noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on several occasions reiterated this and emphasised that there is no other option but the part of dialogue and diplomacy.

“We continue to emphasize that the global order is anchored in international law, the UN Charter and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states.” World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley told the Council it’s hard to believe that before the Ukraine crisis that things could get any worse around the world. "We were already because of fuel prices, food prices, shipping costs beginning to cut rations for millions of children and families around the world in countries like Yemen, where we had just cut 8 million people down to 50 per cent rations and now, we’re looking at going to zero rations. Niger, Mali and Chad I can go on and on.

“So now we’re talking about a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe because of Ukraine, from the breadbasket of the world to breadlines. We would have never dreamed of anything like this would be possible and its not just decimating dynamically Ukraine and the region, but it will have global context impact beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II.” “If we end the conflict, address the needs we can avoid famine, destabilization of nations and mass migration but if we don’t the world will pay a mighty price and the last thing we want to be doing as the World Food Programme is taking food from hungry children to give to starving children. Please let’s make certain that we can reach them all,” Mr. Beasley said.

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