Ahead of referendums that may lead to splintering of Ukraine, India on Thursday reminded that it supported "respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the countries involved in the conflict. Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said that India had maintained a clear position and had been supportive of the territorial integrity of both Ukraine and Russia.
"India has repeatedly emphasised on the immediate cessation of hostilities and the need to resolve the ongoing conflict through dialogue and diplomacy. India's position has also been clear and consistent in so far as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries concerned," said Mr. Bagchi.
The comment comes in the backdrop of announcement by the leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to hold referendums on accession to Russia. The referendums are scheduled during September 23-27. The comments indicate India's concern about the five-day process that may lead to the partition of Ukraine and make the war more violent, especially since Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced partial mobilisation that will make available at least 300,000 reservists for the ongoing Russian war efforts in Ukraine.
The Ministry of External Affairs has maintained a highly cautious approach about referendums in international affairs and has generally avoided extending support to such processes that usually lead to redrawing of the political map of the country concerned. India supported a "united Iraq" during the 2017 referendum in Kurdistan which drew 93% support for independence from the voters but failed to draw legitimacy from the international community. India had supported dialogue and "other" constitutional means to deal with the aspiration of the Kurds in northern Iraq. Subsequently, the referendum in Kurdistan failed to matter because of internal differences as well as lack of international support.
The announcement for referendums in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia is especially ill-timed for India as it will be held just after the September 18-19 event in Canada where a large number of individuals voted in a referendum for Khalistan. Mr. Bagchi responded sharply to the event and described it as a "farcical exercise held by extremists and radical elements". He said that the Canadian government had assured that it did not recognise the exercise and added, "Nevertheless, the government of India will continue to press the government of Canada for action in this matter."