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The Nikkei View

Heavyweight India can help end Ukraine's humanitarian crisis

Traditional ties with Russia are understandable, but Moscow has crossed the line

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at an election rally in Abohar, India, on Feb. 17. An economic powerhouse, India’s actions have a ripple effect that reverberates across the globe.   © Getty Images

The international community is watching India's stance on Ukraine. New Delhi has avoided direct condemnation of Russia's invasion and has abstained from every United Nations resolution on the issue. This commitment to a neutrality has triggered a heated debate in the country.

An economic heavyweight, India now ranks alongside the U.K. and France in terms of gross domestic product. Its actions have a ripple effect on peace and security that reverberates across the globe.

Understandably, friendly relations with Eurasian powerhouse Russia have served as a deterrent in a not-so-quiet neighborhood. India has clashed with China over Himalayan borders and relations with Pakistan are no better. Through arms sales, defense cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative, China and Pakistan are increasingly strengthening ties.

The former Soviet Union served as a mentor to India in building a socialist economy and has provided arms. The international community needs to understand that the two countries have had a special relationship.

Yet, such friendship and trust should surely be based on basic principles, such as the respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and human life. Russia's unilateral invasion of Ukraine and brutal attacks against civilians have violated such principles. We hope India looks this reality in the eye and does what it can to end the humanitarian crisis.

The international community is waiting. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison each met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was also a recent visitor to New Delhi.

The Quad framework among the U.S., Japan, India and Australia serves as a counterweight to unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force.

Undoubtedly, many Indians feel distrust when the West preaches justice, after all the years of British colonialism, previous U.S. military support to Pakistan and the Vietnam War.

India's friends in Asia, including Japan, South Korea and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, should continue dialogue with New Delhi over the importance of sovereignty and humanitarian issues to try to bring the heavyweight to the right side of history.

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