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As Ukraine Foreign Minister Arrives, Is India Mediating End To War?


A question doing the rounds in media circles: could the visit of Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have been better timed given last week’s terror strike in Russia and Moscow indicating possible links with Kyiv.

As a senior former diplomat told StratNews Global, “Seeking postponement would be helpful but will create controversy as it will imply that we are accepting that Ukraine may be involved. Best would be to seek a later date but the reason should be plausible.”

Another former diplomat said “Cancelling or re-scheduling will result in own complications … suggestive of taking a side.”

How would the Russians be feeling over Kuleba’s visit? This is not the first diplomatic interaction between India and the Ukraine. Recall that in April last year, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova was in Delhi on a visit that set tongues wagging.

Although officially a guest of the Indian Council of World Affairs, it was as “official” as it could get with her calling on Meenakshi Lekhi, MoS MEA, and Vikram Misri, Deputy NSA.

Or if one wants to go back even earlier, to Sept 2022, at the SCO summit in Uzbekistan where Prime Minister Modi told President Putin “Today’s era is not of war …”

Cut to last week when Modi spoke to Ukraine’s President Zelensky over the phone on the same day that he personally congratulated President Putin on his election victory and a record sixth term.

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One point that he made was common to both leaders: To Zelensky he “Called for dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward.”

To Putin he reiterated “India’s consistent position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward.”

To Zelensky he also said “India supports all efforts for an early and peaceful resolution of all issues between the Parties … India would continue to do everything within its means to support a peaceful resolution.”

Is India mediating between Moscow and Kyiv? The sequence of events and the official communiques may hint at that although South Block has never used that word. A mediator needs to be trusted by both sides. Neither the US nor Europe make the grade with Putin. China is trying hard but it’s not clear how they are faring.

On the other hand, Russia trusts India. Ukraine not so sure but Kyiv has been pushing hard to make itself heard in South Block.
Note Kuleba’s words ahead of his arrival in Delhi on Thursday: “Ukraine sees India as an important global power with a powerful international voice.”

We should know more as the day progresses.