New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla Thursday said bilateral ties between Russia and India are likely to be impacted due to the stringent economic sanctions being imposed on Moscow by various countries, in the wake of its military operation in Ukraine.
The sanctions were imposed by the US, European Union (EU), Australia, the UK and Japan among others as tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine. On Thursday, these tensions transformed into a full-fledged war as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
“Certain unilateral sanctions were already existing as far as Russia was concerned. Some additional sanctions have been imposed by the US, the EU, by Australia, Japan, the UK among others. But this is an evolving situation as I said and we have to see what sort of impact these sanctions will have on our own interests,” Shringla said at a special media briefing late Thursday.
Soon after the briefing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and appealed for “immediate cessation of violence”, according to PTI.
PM Modi speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, appeals for immediate cessation of violence: PMO
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) February 24, 2022
Foreign Secretary Shringla said the “actual impact of the sanctions” needs to be “studied carefully”.
“Clearly, we need to study this carefully because any sanctions will have an impact on our existing relationship. It would only be correct to acknowledge that factor. But the actual impact of the sanctions need to be studied carefully and we will do that,” he added.
India is the biggest buyer of Russian arms. Currently, it is expecting deliveries of the much-awaited S-400 missiles, which New Delhi has procured under a $5.43-billion deal.
On Wednesday, Russia’s Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin had said that Moscow is “hoping” that the sanctions will not impact its ongoing military projects with India.
On the question of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Shringla said that a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution will be tabled in which India will be voting.
“We will wait to see the outcome of the resolution before we can pronounce the position we will take on this issue,” he said, adding: “It is an evolving situation both on the ground and at the UN.”
“We are at the cutting edge in many of these areas where these issues will be discussed and considered by the international community and we will certainly play our due role in that regard,” said the foreign secretary.
The situation is “complicated” and “evolving”, and no country saw it coming, he added.
‘Teams sent to Ukraine border to evacuate Indian nationals’
The Indian Embassy Thursday issued a third travel advisory to Indian nationals and students in Ukraine.
It asked them to be aware of their surroundings, not leave their homes unless necessary, and stressed that they carry their documents at all times.
Shringla said that External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar will be speaking to his counterparts in Ukraine as well as countries such as Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.
The Ministry of External Affairs has also sent its teams — mostly comprising those who can speak Russian — to safely evacuate Indian nationals from these countries that border Ukraine.
The foreign secretary said that around 4,000 Indian nationals have already returned to India, while over 20,000, most of them students, are still stuck in Ukraine.
He said that these students were reluctant to return for fear of leaving their courses incomplete.
“We have been able to persuade some of the universities and institutions to go for online classes and they have agreed,” added Shringla.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)