Russian envoy gives ‘special message’

May 10, 2022 12:00 am | Updated 05:43 am IST - New Delhi

As Moscow, Washington raise rhetoric over Ukraine, New Delhi steers clear of appearing to pick sides

Russia remains grateful for India’s contribution in the Second World War, said the Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov as he called upon all countries, including India, to “stay united” against “hidden geopolitical agendas”, in a special message issued on Victory Day (V-Day) to mark the end of the War in 1945.

The Russian statement also came ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s travel this month to Tokyo to attend the Quad summit and a possible visit to Germany in June for the G-7 meet, where the U.S. and its allies are expected to increase pressure on India over its stand on Russia and Ukraine.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has, however, said that India’s stand on Ukraine, and its attempt at presenting a neutral stance has not changed “one bit” so far.

“Russia stands ready to respond to any threat to its national security,” Mr. Alipov said, according to a statement released by the Embassy in Delhi.

“We call on all countries to stay united against double standards, hypocrisy in international relations and hidden geopolitical agendas,” he added, in a veiled reference to Ukraine, where Russia has been targeted by Western countries for continuing an invasion since February 24, which includes bombing of civilian targets.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at the Victory Day, or “Pobeda”, military parade, where he claimed Russian forces would win in Ukraine the way they had in the Second World War against Nazi forces.

Putin attacks NATO

“NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] countries did not want to listen to us, meaning that they in fact had entirely different plans, and we saw this. Openly, preparations were under way for another punitive operation in Donbas, the invasion of our historical lands, including Crimea,” Mr. Putin reportedly said, according to translated versions of his televised speech.

Diplomatic experts say that Mr. Putin’s speech and the Russian Ambassador’s message reinforce Russia’s narrative since the beginning of the hostilities in Ukraine that entered the 75th day on Monday, adding that India needs to pay more attention to Russia and the U.S., and less to other countries in Europe and Asia, which “don’t matter as much”.

“India must deal with the U.S. and Russia as the main protagonists — be it in the G-7, Quad or G-20. The resolution on the Ukraine war will require a Russia-U.S. modus vivendi ,” former Indian Ambassador to Moscow D.B. Venkatesh Verma told The Hindu . “The A-league should be our focus, we have to move past the B-teams in B-league,” he added.

Apart from the visit to Tokyo , and the possible visit to the G-7 summit from June 26 to 28 at Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps to which German Chancellor Olaf Scholz invited Mr. Modi during his visit to Berlin last week, the Prime Minister is expected to take part along with Mr. Putin at a virtual BRICS summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in June.

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