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India's position on Russia-Ukraine war is "unsatisfactory" but not surprising to US officials

Indias position on Russia-Ukraine war is unsatisfactory but not surprising to US officials

Washington: According to a senior White House official, India's attitude toward the crisis in Ukraine at the UN has been "unsatisfactory" but also understandable given its historic relations with Russia.

An online forum hosted by Washington's School of Advanced International Studies heard from Mira Rapp-Hooper, White House director for the Indo-Pacific region.

"I think we would certainly all acknowledge and agree that when it comes to votes at the UN, India's position on the current crisis has been unsatisfactory, to say the least. But it's also been totally unsurprising," she said.

While India enjoys close ties with the United States and is an important member of the Quadrilateral defense group aimed at countering China, it also has a long-lasting relationship with Moscow, which remains one of its most important sources of defense equipment.

In UN Security Council votes concerning the issue, India has abstained from condemning Russian actions in Ukraine.

In spite of the worsening relationship between India and China, Ms Rapp-Hooper said the country thought "long and hard" about its defense dependence on Russia.

"I think our perspective would be that the way forward involves keeping India close, thinking hard about how to present it with options, so that it can continue to provide for its strategic autonomy," she said.

In the years prior to the Ukraine crisis, Delhi upset Washington by purchasing Russia's S-400 air defense system, putting the country at risk of U.S. sanctions under an American law aimed at preventing foreign countries from buying Russian military hardware.

US cooperation with Delhi in the Quad forum aimed at countering China's growing influence could be threatened by sanctions against India.

According to Ms Rapp-Hooper, Washington and its allies and partners need to review their supply chains and think about ways to help countries which may be considering how to replace Russian defence systems.

"We have a number of partners that have chosen to keep their chips in with Russia, in terms of their defense procurement. in part as a hedge against China, but who are now in a place of reconsidering the wisdom of those decisions," she said.

"Not only will they need to make long-term decisions about how to potentially replace Russian systems in the immediate term, they will need to be able to get supplies and spare parts to be able to maintain their own militaries."

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