• A recent report in a prominent American daily focussed on the possibility of India playing a significant role in seeking to bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table.
  • The report came on the eve of the visit of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s to Moscow (November 7-8). It led to comment in the Indian media, both sober and exuberant, on how Indian diplomacy since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in February 2022, had deftly put India in a position to promote peace between the warring parties.
  • For the ruling dispensation’s supporters, a mediatory Indian role in the Ukraine war would naturally serve as a great vindication of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal position as a world leader and his government’s successful handling of India’s external interests. 

When the G20 presidency is in the picture

  • That Mr. Modi is drawing public attention to his efforts to advance India’s global status and reputation is clear from the enormous emphasis he is giving to India assuming the G20 presidency on December 1, 2022.
  • In a speech on November 8 to mark the release of the logo, theme and website of the Indian presidency, he said: “You can imagine what a big opportunity has come before the country in the ‘Amrit kal’ of Independence.
  • It is a matter of pride for every Indian; it is a matter of increasing one’s pride.” He went on to add, “…this summit is just not a diplomatic meeting.
  • India sees this as a new responsibility for itself. India sees this as the world’s faith in itself.” The question is whether he would consider the G20 presidency as a “new” responsibility to contribute to a resolution of the Ukraine conflict.
  • He may be actively encouraged to do so by the West. The idea, though seductive, is full of pitfalls.
  • It would mark a departure from the cautious, and largely successful, approach that India has pursued till now on the Ukraine war.
  • India has made its disapproval of Russia’s action clear even if it has refrained from voting against it on substantive resolutions in United Nations forums, including the Security Council.
  • The maximum extent that India has gone to is of Mr. Modi openly telling Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand (September 2022) that the present age was not one of war.
  • India has advocated a return to diplomacy and dialogue. India has intervened in specific cases with Russia such as to prevent it from endangering the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant (in Ukraine) or to allow the export of Ukraine foodgrains. But all these steps are far removed from attempts to mediate or bring the parties to the negotiating table.


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