Russia declares independence of Ukraine’s breakaway regions, India calls for restraint

By Shweta Aggarwal

Treading cautiously after Moscow recognized the Ukrainian rebel regions as independent and sent its troops for peacekeeping, India has called for “restraint on all sides” and underlined that all issue between Russia and Ukraine can only be resolved through “diplomatic dialogue.”

“India calls for “restraint on all sides” and the “immediate priority is de-escalation of tensions taking into account the legitimate security interests of all countries,” India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations TS Tirumurti said at the UNSC emergency meet on Ukraine on February 22. “We’re convinced that this issue can only be resolved through diplomatic dialogue. We need to give space to recent initiatives undertaken by parties which seek to diffuse tensions,” Mr Tirumurti said.

The Indian envoy expressed concerns about the safety of over 20,000 Indian nationals living in Ukraine. “Safety and security of civilians is essential. More than 20,000 Indian students & nationals live & study in different parts of Ukraine, incl in its border areas. The well-being of Indians is of priority to us.”

“India strongly emphasize the vital need for all sides to maintain international peace and security by exercising the utmost restraint and intensifying diplomatic efforts to ensure that a mutually amicable solution is arrived at the earliest,” he said.

The UNSC emergency meeting came soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent and ordered the Russian army to launch what Moscow justified as a peacekeeping operation into the area.

Mr Putin signed a decree recognising the independence of the two Ukrainian breakaway regions — the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic – along with agreements on cooperation and friendship.

In a lengthy televised address, Putin described Ukraine as an integral part of Russia’s history and said eastern Ukraine was ancient Russian land. Mr Putin struck an upbeat note, saying he was confident that the Russian people would support his decision.

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