Why won’t India’s government condemn Vladimir Putin?

The Economist March 12 edition.

It thinks it has more to lose from alienating him than from annoying the West...

Indian politicians love to remind people that their country is the world’s biggest democracy. They are also extremely prickly about its borders. Yet India has failed to condemn President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to wipe off the map another independent democracy, Ukraine. In the unSecurity Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, India conspicuously abstained from resolutions deploring Russia’s invasion of its neighbour. That perplexes some observers in Western capitals. The government of Narendra Modi, the prime minister, has done much to improve ties with America and Europe in recent years. But when asked to choose sides, India sits on the fence. To some, it seems that Mr Modi favours Mr Putin.

Not so, say Indian policymakers, pointing to official statements that lament the violence, express support for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and call for diplomacy to be given a chance. Moreover, they say, the abstentions should be seen in the context of India’s long tradition of being beholden to no superpower. Yet many of the countries India once claimed to lead in a cold-war era “non-aligned movement” have joined in the condemnation of Mr Putin’s actions.

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