South Asia and Beyond

Russia-Ukraine War: India Can Play Useful Role, Says German Envoy

With the Russia-Ukraine war now in its third year, India’s position has been quite nuanced much to the chagrin of the West. While India has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said this is not an ear of war, India has refrained from any overt condemnation of what the West calls Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Between democracies and strategic partners, divergent views are normal, says Philipp Ackermann, German ambassador to India. “India’s relation with Russia goes way back. It is a longstanding, old relation and that India doesn’t react the same way than the European countries is understandable to a certain degree,” he told StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale in an exclusive interview.

We keep talking to India about this and I am sure India is concerned about the war in Ukraine, he said, adding that while India and Germany agree that the war is unfortunate and it needs to stop as quickly as possible, “maybe we have differences about the way to get there”.

The envoy reiterated Germany’s support to Ukraine and hoped India could play a useful role at some stage (in ending the war). It’s heartening to see Prime Minister Modi talking to both sides, he said.

The Russia-Ukraine war has shaken up the whole of Europe and brought about a political upheaval of sorts in Germany. “Russia has become a real threat to Europe and we, as partners in NATO, see with greatest concern what happens in the region. We have no trust in Russia anymore in this case. It means that we have to strengthen our armed forces,” said Ackermann.

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Israel-Hamas War

Another conflict that shows no signs of abating is the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says is needed to destroy the terrorist group Hamas that launched a deadly strike on Israel on October 7 last year.

It’s a big issue in Europe and Germany in particular, which has a historic responsibility when it comes to Israel, the envoy said. “Our solidarity with Israel is very strong but what we see right now makes us very uncomfortable.”

Netanyahu has insisted on Israeli troops launching a ground offensive in Rafah, which is home to over a million war-displaced people. The US says that’s not needed as there are alternative means to destroy Hamas. “What happened on October 7 is no doubt a disaster but we hope the Israeli government will reconsider its decision on Rafah,” said Ackermann.

Nitin A. Gokhale

Left to himself, Nitin A. Gokhale would rather watch films and sports matches but his day job as a media entrepreneur, communications specialist, analyst and author, leaves him little time to indulge in his primary interests. Gokhale in fact started his career in journalism in 1983 as a sports reporter. Since then he has, in the past 41 years, traversed the entire spectrum across print, broadcast and digital space. One of South Asia's leading strategic analysts, Gokhale has moved on from conventional media to become an independent media entrepreneur running three niche digital platforms—BharatShakti, StratNewsGlobal and Interstellar—besides undertaking consultancy and training workshops in communications for military institutions, corporates and individuals. Now better known for his conflict coverage and strategic analyses, Gokhale has lived and reported from India’s North-east for 23 years between 1983 and 2006, been on the ground at Kargil in the summer of 1999 and also brought us live coverage from Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV between 2006-2009.    An alumni of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, Gokhale now writes, lectures and analyses security and strategic matters in Indo-Pacific and travels regularly to US, Europe, Australia, South and South-East Asia to take part in various seminars and conferences. Gokhale is also a popular visiting faculty at India’s Defence Services Staff College, the three war colleges, India's National Defence College, College of Defence Management and the IB’s intelligence school.