External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar thanked Italian authorities for their cooperation. Photo: Facebook

India stands for peace, wants an end to hostilities: Jaishankar on Russia-Ukraine conflict

India always takes its foreign policy decisions keeping its “national interest” in mind, even as it believes the international order “must respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of states”, said the external affairs minister S Jaishankar in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday (March 23). Moreover, he appealed “for immediate cessation of violence” in the Russia-Ukraine conflict since India “stands for peace”.

India is very clear on its principles, he added. “Our policy is very much guided by our belief that the international order must respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of states…” Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha.

Meanwhile, replying to a question raised by Kerala Congress MP Jose K Mani, Jaishankar maintained in a written statement that India’s position on the Ukraine conflict has been “steadfast and consistent”. India has expressed its concern on the “worsening situation” in  Ukraine and called for an immediate cessation of violence and end all hostilities, he reiterated.

India does not view the Russia and Ukraine conflict as “not our problem. Our position is that we are for peace”.

Further, the government has been able to safely bring home 22,500 Indian citizens and 147 foreign nationals belonging to 18 countries from Ukraine since February 2022, he said in his statement tabled in the Rajya Sabha. He denied that India’s position on the Russian invasion is “somewhat shaky a”mong the Quad countries. It does not have impact on India-US trade, Jaishankar adding that “there is no question of linking the Ukraine situation to issues of trade”.

Also read: India abstains from voting in UNSC on Russia’s resolution on humanitarian crisis in Ukraine

Jaishankar then went on to list six principles on which India’s position on Ukraine is based: “One, that we call for an immediate cessation of violence and to all hostilities. We stand for peace. Two, India believes there is no other way than a return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy. Three, we recognise the global order is anchored on international law, UN charters and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. Four, we call for humanitarian access to the conflict situation,” said the statement.

The fifth principle, he said is that India provides humanitarian assistance. India has given 90 tonnes of humanitarian assistance so far and is looking at providing more, especially medicines. The sixth principle rests on India being in touch with the leadership of both the Russian federation and Ukraine on this matter.

Moreover, in his oral and written submissions, Jaishankar pointed out that since the hostilities broke out, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin thrice and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy twice. Jaishankar said that President Putin briefed the PM on the status of negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian teams. The PM expressed hope that they would lead to cessation of the conflict and suggested that a direct conversation should be held between President Putin and President Zelenskyy.

Also, on a question on how India is tackling “shifting geopolitical alliances, Jaishankar said that India is fully cognizant of “all changes” happening in the international order “including the relations between Russia and China”. According to Jaishankar, developments in India’s neighbourhood is “foremost” in their attention.

Moreover, Jaishankar agreed with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Naresh Gujral’s observation about the “double game” being played by the western countries on meeting energy needs using Russian imports. Queried on whether oil purchases can be made under the Rupee-Rouble arrangement, Jaishankar replied, “Government is examining various aspects, including the payment aspect.”

But India imports less than one per cent of crude oil is from Russia, while “many other countries” import 10-20 times the amount of imports that India does.

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