India says US, Russia ties 'stand on their own merit' despite Ukraine war

Published March 24, 2022
A photo of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Russia's President Vladimir Putin. - Reuters/File
A photo of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Russia's President Vladimir Putin. - Reuters/File

India has friendly relations with both the United States and Russia that stand on their own merit, the foreign ministry told parliament on Thursday, in reply to a query whether the Ukraine war had affected ties.

Over the past decade, India has grown closer to the United States in the face of a resurgent China across the border, but Russia remains its biggest arms supplier.

India is the only major country close to the United States not to have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine or imposed any sanctions on it.

“India has called for immediate cessation of hostilities and return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue with respect to the conflict in Ukraine,” junior foreign minister Meenakashi Lekhi told parliament.

“India has close and friendly relations with both the US and Russia,” she added. “They stand on their own merit.”

After a visit this week to New Delhi, a US diplomat said the country stood ready to help India with more supplies of military hardware and energy to reduce its reliance on Russia.

From rifles to rockets, about 60 per cent of India's military supplies come from Russia, which analysts say are more cost effective than those from the United States.

The development comes two days after US President Joe Biden said that India was an exception among Washington's allies with its “shaky” response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Addressing a meeting of US business leaders in Washington Monday, Biden said there had been “a united front throughout Nato and in the Pacific”.

“The Quad is, with the possible exception of India being somewhat shaky on some of this, but Japan has been extremely strong – so has Australia – in terms of dealing with Putin's aggression.”

He added that Putin was “counting on being able to split Nato” and instead, “Nato has never been stronger, more united, in its entire history than it is today.”

New Delhi, which historically has had close ties with Moscow, called for an end to the violence in Ukraine but has stopped short of condemning Russia's invasion, abstaining in three votes at the United Nations.

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