Relationship with India stands on its own merit; not impacted by tensions with Russia: State dept

Washington, Feb 4 (PTI) America’s relationship with India stands on its own merits and has not been impacted by the ongoing tension with Russia, a top State Department official has said, days after India abstained from a procedural vote in the UN Security Council to discuss the situation on the Ukraine border.

For the second time this week, State Department spokesperson Ned Price refrained from responding to questions related to India’s position on Ukraine in the United Nations Security Council.

Asked if the US ties with India have been impacted due to the tension with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, Price said: We have a relationship with India that stands on its own merits .

I will leave it to our Indian partners to discuss their stance in the UN Security on this particular issue.

We have been in touch with literally dozens of countries around the world, including our Indian partners, on our concerns regarding Russia’s military buildup and its unprovoked potential aggression against Ukraine, Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Thursday.

These are conversations that the United States is having at different levels, he said.

Russia is reported to have amassed an estimated 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine has brought increasingly strong warnings from the West that Moscow intends to invade. Russia has repeatedly denied that it plans to invade Ukraine.

However, Moscow is demanding that NATO promise never to allow Ukraine to join the military alliance, and to stop the deployment of NATO weapons near Russian borders and roll back its forces from Eastern Europe. The US and NATO have rejected Russia’s demands but have not ruled out more talks to address the security concerns of Moscow and ease the crisis.

The State Department spokesperson further said: As I was saying in a different context earlier, Russian aggression against Ukraine and a Russian invasion of Ukraine would have implications for the security environment well beyond that neighbourhood.

Whether it is the PRC (People’s Republic of China) or India or countries around the world, the implications would be far-reaching. And I think there is a broad understanding of that , Price said.

India on Monday abstained from a procedural vote taken in the UN Security Council ahead of a meeting to discuss the situation on the Ukraine border and underlined that quiet and constructive diplomacy is the need of the hour and any steps that increase tension may best be avoided by all sides in the larger interest of securing international peace and security.

The 15-nation UNSC held a meeting to discuss the Ukraine crisis amid the build-up of tens of thousands of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders. The action by Moscow has stoked fears of an invasion. Russia denies it is planning an attack.

Ahead of the meeting, Russia called for a procedural vote to determine if the open meeting can go through. The Council needed 9 votes in favour to go ahead with the meeting held at the request of the US.

India, Gabon and Kenya abstained from the vote, while Russia and China voted against. All other Council members, including the US, the UK and France, voted in favour of the meeting.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said in the Council that New Delhi has been closely following the evolving developments relating to Ukraine, including through ongoing high-level security talks between Russia and the United States, as well as under the Normandy format in Paris.

India’s interest is in finding a solution that can provide for immediate de-escalation of tensions taking into account the legitimate security interests of all countries and aimed towards securing long term peace and stability in the region and beyond, Tirumurti said.

India said it has also been in touch with all concerned parties.

It is our considered view that the issue can only be resolved through diplomatic dialogue, Tirumurti said.