New Delhi: As Russia launched a military operation in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, India warned that hostility between the two countries may lead to a major crisis and undermine peace in the region.
India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations T. S. Tirumurti said, “The situation is in danger of spiralling into a major crisis. We express our deep concern over the developments, which if not handled carefully, may well undermine the peace and security of the region.”
He was speaking at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council late Wednesday – requested by Ukraine after the country’s breakaway regions Donetsk and Luhansk openly sided with Russia.
Mr Tirumurti said that “calls of the international community to give time to the recent initiatives undertaken by parties to diffuse tensions were not heeded to”.
India wants immediate de-escalation, and a stop to any action that may further worsen the situation, he said.
Russia’s news agency TASS has said President Vladimir Putin’s decision to conduct a special military operation early Thursday was to protect the separatist Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk) region. Though Putin has said Russia doesn’t plan to occupy its southern neighbour, Ukraine is not so convinced.
Putin announced the military operation in an address that aired simultaneously with the UNSC meeting convened by Ukraine. This prompted Ukraine’s representative to the UNSC to sombrely note that most of the statements he had prepared “were already useless”.
It is yet not clear how far Putin plans to take this operation. But Putin has warned “external powers” with consequences if they “attempt to create threats for Russians”.
US President Joe Biden has called the military operation an “unprovoked and unjustified attack”, adding that the world would hold Russia accountable.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted, “This conflict must stop now”.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) chief Jens Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked attack” on Ukraine, warning it put “countless civilian lives” in jeopardy. Stoltenberg said Russia had chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country despite “repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy”.