India’s stand on diplomacy not war in Ukraine-Russia conflict is right: Ambassador Prabhu Dayal

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Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, former Consul General of India in New York, speaking during an interview March 3, 2022, on ITV Gold. Photo: videograb
Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, during ITV Gold interview March 3, 2022, with Ambassador Prabhu Dayal. Photo: videograb

Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, former Consul General of India in New York, defended India’s position in abstaining on the recent vote at the United Nations which “deplored” Russia’s attack on Ukraine. He asserted that New Delhi’s push for finding a diplomatic solution was right in the rapidly developing violent confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.

In an interview with ITV Gold March 3, 2022, Ambassador Dayal said, war is no solution and that India’s stand that diplomatic solution be found to the Russia-Ukraine conflict was the right one.

In these “very grave times,” Dayal said, India’s abstension in the vote against Russia at the UN, “was a very well reasoned decision.” According to him, it is the responsibility of the Government of India to serve the country’s interests.

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With India’s dependence on Russian defense equipment, the “eyeball-to-eyeball” confrontation with China on the northern border, and the hostile relations with Pakistan, “… the decision was made (to abstain) keeping in mind India’s geopolitical realities,” Ambassador Dayal said.

During the extensive interview, Ambassador Dayal was joined by Dr. Sudhir Parikh, founder and chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, who expressed his agreement with the views expressed by the leading Indian diplomat.

“It was a very important matter as far as India was concerned, to keep Russia on its side. India has a huge dependence on Russia for military supplies and equipment,” Ambassador Dayal said.

“Moreover, India has found Russian support in many tricky situations when such support was needed. So, if India had voted in favor of the Western-sponsored resolution, this would have certainly annoyed the Russians. And then our supplies of spare parts for our weapons systems, our friendship with Russia, would have been certainly endangered,” he added.

Dayal was optimistic about continuing good relations between India and the United States. He nixed any fears that bilateral relations with Washington were endangered because of the abstention on the Ukraine vote.

“We have tried to explain to Americans that when we abstained (at the UN) we had in mind our geopolitical interests and we could not do anything to jeopardize that,” Dayal said.

“India and the United States are now strategic partners for defense cooperation. We are both members of The Quad with Japan and Australia, and the overriding interest there is containing Chinese expansionism,” something that all four countries are worried about, Dayal pointed out. “So India’s strategic cooperation with U.S. will not change because of Ukraine position because interests of both countries are much more closely aligned and long term.”

“In the long term, this relationship is far too strong, far too deeply entrenched for it to get eroded so easily,” Ambassador Dayal opined. Though India has being diversifying its sources for defense equipment, Dayal noted, dependence on Russia would continue as supplies are needed in the short and long term.

Dr. Parikh also noted India’s longstanding ties with Russia, adding, “In a way, it is a good thing if some large, important countries (like India) are neutral in this war. They can be used as a leader to make a diplomatic solution,” Dr. Parikh said.

“Because at the end of the day, we all want Ukraine to be independent,” said Dr. Parikh, adding that making it a neutral zone as suggested by Ambassador Dayal was a good idea, and added that Russia had earlier proposed that Ukraine be a demilitarized zone.

Dr. Parikh also noted that it was possible that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin may not have understood the enormity of his action or the response to his invasion. “Perhaps Putin had a miscalculation that Biden is a weak President, that the West is not going to come together for harsh sanctions like the SWIFT ban on Russian banking, and that even people and large corporations are refusing to do business with Russia,” Dr. Parikh contended, adding that Putin may be looking for a face-saving way out of the situation.

Ambassador Dayal said the situation in Ukraine had been festering for years and not hidden from public view. Ukrainian  President Volodymyr Zelensky’s “very hostile posture” toward Russia could have escalated the situation. “Diplomacy was not given much of a chance,” and it was something India has been counseling for a long time, Dayal said. Cries for Ukraine’s membership of NATO became more shrill, contributing to the current crisis.

“All parties will have to pay the cost of this war,” he said, because even though the portents of trouble were there, timely decision were not taken. “I do hope that better sense will prevail … because we do not want to see the start of a 3rd World War as many people are already talking about,” Ambassador Dayal added, pointing to the nuclear element that no country could face.

The interview also dwelt on the death of an Indian student in Ukraine who was studying medicine there, and on the alleged discrimination against Indian and African students in Ukraine, going by news reports emanating from that country.

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