Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, India—which is currently a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council—has drawn scrutiny for having abstained multiple times on votes in the Security Council, U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Human Rights Council on resolutions criticizing the Russian aggression. Instead, the Indian Mission at the United Nations issued a nuanced statement calling for an “immediate cessation of violence” in Ukraine, without publicly condemning Russia’s actions—a move that pleased neither its Western partners nor Russia.
The Russian-Ukraine war puts India in a difficult position. On the one hand, India wants to avoid antagonizing the U.S., a long-time partner with which it has multifaceted and deepening ties. On the other, ongoing tensions with Pakistan and China require India to preserve its relationship with Russia, which is one of New Delhi’s leading suppliers of weapons and defense equipment.
Although the Biden administration has avoided any public criticism of India’s stance over Ukraine, its disappointment over New Delhi’s repeated failure to condemn President Vladimir Putin’s actions is palpable. American officials have identified India as a reliable U.S. partner in Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China, and they clearly expected more from India in view of their emerging strategic alignment.