Biden says India is “shocking” in its actions against Old Cold War ally Russia

US President Joe Biden listens while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a Quad Nations meeting at the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework held in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 24, 2021. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein

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NEW DELHI, March 22 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden has said that only India among the Quad group of countries was “somewhat shaky” in acting against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine as India tries to balance its ties with Russia and the West.

While the other Quad countries – the United States, Japan and Australia – have sanctioned Russian units or individuals, India has not imposed sanctions on its largest supplier of military hardware.

India has called for an end to the violence in Ukraine, but has not condemned its old Cold War ally for the invasion.

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“In response to his aggression, we have presented a united front throughout NATO and in the Pacific,” Biden told a business forum on Monday, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Quad – possibly with the exception that India is somewhat appalling at some of these – but Japan has been extremely strong, as has Australia in terms of dealing with Putin’s aggression.”

Putin says Russia is carrying out “a special military operation” to stop the Ukrainian government from committing “genocide” – an accusation that the West calls a baseless fabrication.

Following a virtual summit between the Australian and Indian prime ministers on Monday, India’s foreign ministry said Australia understood India’s position on Ukraine, which “reflected our own situation, our own considerations”. Read more

Although India has grown close to the United States in recent years, it is still dependent on Russia for a continuous supply of weapons and ammunition amid a border between the Himalayas and China and sustained tensions with Pakistan.

India is also considering buying more Russian oil at a discount, with two Indian state-owned companies recently ordering 5 million barrels. Indian analysts and officials point out that European countries are buying fuel from Russia while publicly criticizing Moscow. Read more

Victoria Nuland, a U.S. secretary of state who met with India’s foreign secretary on Monday, told Indian television station NDTV that the United States had not asked partners like India to abruptly stop buying energy from Russia.

“We have made it clear in our conversation that we understand that this is not something you can cut off immediately, in the same way that we have been clear with our European allies, who are still too dependent on Russian energy, to that we understand that they will also have to evolve away from it, “she said in an interview aired Tuesday.

“But what we want to do is work together to find alternative sources over time. And that’s what we hope to do with India, whether it’s in terms of security, energy, etc.”

She also said Washington could help New Delhi retrieve Soviet-era defense equipment outside Russia.

“We have supported the provision of security needs for Ukraine together with our allies and partners from around the world, including some Soviet-era equipment,” Nuland said.

“And that’s the kind of thing we can do with India as it continues to develop its position.”

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Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Edited by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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