U.S. President Joe Biden speaksNew Delhi has not only abstained from a United Nations (UN) vote that labelled Russia as the “aggressor” in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, but has also hinted at deepening its energy ties with Moscow, which has offered India cheaper crude exports.Sanjaya Baru, who served as an adviser to ex-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has slammed US President Joe Biden for calling out India for its “shaky response” to the crisis in Ukraine. Baru backed New Delhi’s official response of not taking sides in the row in Eastern Europe.
“President Joe Biden's remarks are uncalled for. The Indian position is not 'shaky', but firm and consistent with 75 years of pursuing an independent foreign policy”, Baru, who is also a critically-acclaimed author, told Sputnik, while reacting to the US president’s remarks.
While addressing a CEO roundtable at the White House on Monday, Biden lauded the “united response” to Russian military actions presented by NATO and the US’ partners in the Pacific region.“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. We presented a united front throughout NATO and the Pacific”, Biden added.
Baru remarked that Russia, along with the US, European Union, and Japan, all remained “important partners” for India.
He underlined that New Delhi’s “primary focus on national security” was served by its “own economic development” and maintaining “peace and stability” in the neighbourhood.
“India has to rely first and foremost on itself. This has been our policy and will remain so”, the Indian author stated when asked if New Delhi could rely on the US in the longer run to achieve its national security interests amid several public calls by Washington asking New Delhi to side with the West in the ongoing conflict.
“India will work with the US, Russia, EU and Japan, given that the global balance of power system is increasingly tending towards multipolarity”, Baru explained.
Moscow has been a reliably defence and strategic partner for New Delhi since the 1970s, and is a source of over 60 percent of its defence imports. The security ties with Moscow have assumed even greater significance for New Delhi against the backdrop of its ongoing border standoff with China.In spite of enjoying close security and strategic ties with Beijing as well, Russia has continued to supply high-grade weaponry to India, most recently the S-400 surface-to-air missiles (which will reportedly be operational by April).According to reports, Indian companies are also stepping up their crude purchases from Russia, which has offered energy at cheaper prices on the back of Western sanctions against Moscow.On the other hand, India has stepped up its defence and energy procurements from the US over the last five years. India bought $3.4 billion worth of American armaments between 2016 and 2020, besides being designated as a “major defence partner” in 2018.India’s Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri noted in parliament on Monday that New Delhi had bought around $13.5 billion in energy (crude, natural gas, and coal) from the US, also stating that crude volumes from the US could “rise significantly” in coming months. Around 7.3 percent of India’s crude requirements were sourced from the US in March 2020-April 2021, Puri said.Situation in UkraineIndia’s Ex-FM: Buying Cheaper Crude From Russia in Delhi’s ‘Interest’, US Can’t Determine Our Policy18 March, 05:00 GMTWhile India is also a member of theWashington-led Quad grouping (including Japan and Australia), it has refused to enter into a formal alliance with Washington and declined to side with the West on Ukraine.Before Biden’s remarks, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week also asked India not to support Moscow. Psaki, however, admitted that sourcing more Russian oil by India won’t violate the US sanctions.”But also think about where you want to stand when history books are written at this moment in time”, the US official remarked.
Biden Hasn’t Said a Word About China’s Aggression, Says Strategic Analyst
Brahma Chellaney, a noted Indian strategic affairs expert, has also blasted Biden for describing India’s response as “shaky”, as he criticised the lack of a forceful response from the Democrat administration towards the Ladakh border dispute.
“India has a longstanding policy against third-party intervention in its disputes with any nation. So, China's border aggression cannot be an exception. But India certainly hasn't urged the U.S. or any other friend not to condemn the aggression on its own”, he remarked in a series of tweets.
The Indian expert recalled that, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other Trump-era officials had “no hesitation” in blasting the “Chinese aggression against India”.“But Biden hasn’t said a word, and there have been only passing references by his officials to the aggression in the context of China’s other actions”, he added.
“Yet an insensitive Biden calls India's response to a distant war he helped provoke with a forward policy”, Chellaney further stated.
Russia says that the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which has enlisted new members in the former Soviet Union’s territory in five separate waves since 1990, is one of the primary reasons for its special military operation in Ukraine, announced on 24 February by President Vladimir Putin.Moscow has offered to put an end to its operation if Kiev enshrines a neutral status in its constitution, which is among the preconditions set by Russia.