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Ukraine Crisis: India Pressed for “Under the Radar” Arms Aid

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As Ukraine ammunition reserves dwindle, desperate searches for shells reach across the globe. Shadowy meetings between European diplomats point to India as a clandestine supplier, despite New Delhi’s proclaimed neutrality.

Is India already providing covert arms to Ukraine against Russia’s wishes? Videos of Indian-made shells on the frontlines fuel speculation of backchannel transfers through third parties. While publicly neutral, is India engaged in a secret conspiracy to subtly assist NATO’s proxy war?

New Delhi denies any role, but its balancing act frays as the Ukraine crisis spirals. The pressure rises for India to pick a side and join Western efforts. 

Yet aiding NATO could jeopardize India’s longtime relationship with its Russian ally. It may also provoke Beijing’s ire if seen enabling America’s quest for dominance. As events unfold, will India maintain its prized autonomy or bow to globalist powers seeking to redraw Eurasia’s map?

As the war in Ukraine drags on, Europe is desperately searching for sources of ammunition to supply Kyiv’s forces. With U.S. military aid blocked in Congress, EU countries are racing against time to procure artillery shells and other munitions. This frantic global hunt has now turned to India as a potential supplier, putting New Delhi in a delicate position given its close ties with Russia.

According to German magazine Der Spiegel, at a recent informal meeting of European diplomats in Berlin, India was suggested as an option to help bolster Ukraine’s dwindling stockpiles of ammunition. Officials noted India maintains a substantial reserve of artillery shells numbering in the thousands.

However, any negotiations for India to provide arms to Ukraine would likely happen discreetly. India has maintained neutrality since Russia’s invasion, not wanting to damage relations with Moscow. As External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar explained during a recent trip to Germany, “Russia has never hurt our interests.”

Jaishankar emphasized that each nation shapes foreign policy based on its unique history and relationships. He said Western countries preferred Pakistan over India during the Cold War, while Russia reliably supplied arms to India even during tensions with China.

“We have had a stable and always very friendly relationship with Russia. For others, things were different, and conflicts may have shaped the relationship. We cannot have a view of Russia that is identical to the European one,” Jaishankar noted.

Addressing a session during the Raisina Dialogue 2024 in the national capital, Jaishankar recently offered insightful commentary on the Russia-China relationship and its implications for India and the world. He noted that some Western nations are essentially pushing Russia and China closer together through policies aimed at isolating Moscow, while simultaneously warning about the risks of Sino-Russian entente.

Jaishankar’s perspective underscores India’s delicate balancing act between Russia and the West amidst the Ukraine conflict. While seeking to preserve ties with Moscow, India also wants to deepen strategic cooperation with Europe, the U.S. and other democracies. 

This middle path aligns with India’s traditional foreign policy of non-alignment. As tensions mount over Ukraine, India remains guided by the ideals of its founding fathers – promoting global peace and human dignity while fiercely guarding strategic autonomy. India must skilfully walk this tightrope between rival camps during a time of global turmoil.

Diplomats indicate that if India did provide any military aid, it would likely be indirectly through third parties. Publicly maintaining neutrality remains important for India’s interests. Still, some discretionary assistance may occur as part of New Delhi’s careful balancing act between Russia and the West.

The frantic search for ammunition comes as Ukraine faces catastrophic shortages while Russia deploys massive artillery barrages. Cities like Avdiivka risk falling without the shells to counterattack. Congressional delays in approving $61 billion in U.S. assistance have exacerbated the crisis.

According to internal American estimates, the lack of supplies could shift momentum to Russia just as Ukraine makes gains. Officials warn the shortage will get progressively worse in coming months, allowing Russia to potentially turn the tide. Air defense missiles are also critically low.

Faced with the dire situation, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged looking beyond the bloc for supplies. Ukraine is burning through thousands of 155mm artillery rounds daily just to match Russia’s shelling. But Western stockpiles are severely depleted after a year of withdrawals.

Even urgent investments to boost production will take time and coordination. With lives hanging in the balance, Ukraine’s allies are searching under every rock for ammunition, including floating the idea of India as a source.

For India, being singled out as an option to arm Ukraine will worsen tensions with Russia. But calls for India to assuage humanitarian suffering in Ukraine are also growing. As an aspiring global power, India must balance both ethical and realist calculations.

Complete neutrality appears increasingly untenable as the Russia-Ukraine war reshapes geopolitics. India will likely continue to abstain from overt condemnation or sanctions on Russia. Yet New Delhi may discreetly support initiatives that de-escalate tensions and promote ceasefires.

Providing limited ammunition indirectly could be seen as humanitarian assistance, not a violation of neutrality. It may also strengthen India’s relationships with strategic partners like the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia. Securing favor with these nations is vital amid rising Chinese assertiveness.

But overtly arming Ukraine would cross Moscow’s red lines. India still depends heavily on Russia for energy, weapons, and diplomatic support on issues like Kashmir. Jeopardizing these ties would undermine India’s security and strategic autonomy.

So New Delhi will likely pursue backchannel support for Ukraine’s defensive needs. Public neutrality can be maintained by quietly allowing diversion of ammunition through third countries. India must walk this fine line skillfully amid mounting global urgency.

The Ukraine war has forced difficult reckoning for Indian foreign policy. But opportunities have also emerged to leverage India’s unique position between warring camps. By maintaining ties with both Russia and the West, India facilitates vital dialogue and cooperation on shared interests.

Prime Minister Modi has spoken to both Ukraine’s Zelensky and Russia’s Putin, urging de-escalation and return to diplomacy. India’s independence and non-alignment grant it this rare mediating role between the West and Russia. Hard realities mean overtly breaking with Moscow remains unwise.

Yet the gulf between India’s and Russia’s worldviews seems to be widening. Far from a revival of Cold War ties, India values its strategic alignment with the U.S., Europe and democracies worldwide. This rules out any return to a time when Russia dominated India’s security relationships.

Looking ahead, India is more likely to discreetly assist Western aims on Ukraine in modest ways without compromising core ties with Moscow. This nuanced approach accounts for moral imperatives while safeguarding national interests.

However, recent reports of Indian artillery shells reaching Ukrainian forces highlight the increasing complexities of New Delhi’s balancing act. 

In January 2024, reports emerged that Indian-made artillery shells were being used by Ukrainian forces. 

Videos and pictures circulated online showed 155mm ammunition compatible with Polish-supplied howitzers. This sparked speculation that despite professing neutrality, India may be indirectly supplying munitions amid Ukraine’s severe shortages.

The shells were believed to be produced by India’s state-run Munitions India Limited. New Delhi denied direct arms transfers, but Ukraine could be receiving Indian ammunition via third parties. With Western stockpiles depleted, desperate searches for shells reach globally. 

If verified, India’s discreet assistance despite public neutrality would highlight the war’s far-reaching ripple effects. For New Delhi, strictly humanitarian motives may justify modest, indirect support bypassing Russia’s scrutiny. Yet this risks unwittingly intensifying the complex balancing act between old allies and new partners.

The Ukraine war poses difficult questions for which there are no easy answers. But India remains guided by the ideals of its founding fathers – promoting global peace and human dignity while fiercely guarding strategic autonomy. If ammunition reaching Ukraine through quiet channels can alleviate suffering, India may deem it worthwhile during this grave crisis.

Yet New Delhi will act prudently to minimize damage to ties with old partners, even as emerging alignments beckon. India’s moral voice and strategic wisdom are needed more than ever on the pressing challenges facing humanity. By balancing principled pragmatism and relationships old and new, India continues walking its non-aligned path in shaping a new world order from disorder.

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