ThePrint, one of India’s most popular online media outlets, published a piece on Wednesday about “What Modi-Zelenskyy call signifies — ‘India’s stature rising despite Russian oil backlash’”. This is the correct way of interpreting the latest interaction between those two leaders, especially since Zelensky abandoned his country’s prior position of criticizing India’s Russian oil imports in an attempt to seek its help in brokering a peace deal with Moscow.
To be sure, that selfsame deal that the Ukrainian leader envisages isn’t sincere since it’s predicated on Russia complying with its demand that it unilaterally withdraw from Crimea, Donbass, and Novorossiya, which is politically unrealistic. Nevertheless, it still goes to show that Zelensky understands the importance of at least making superficial outreaches to India in this respect since the international community can no longer ignore its newfound status as a globally significant Great Power.
India’s principled neutrality already reaped grand strategic dividends with respect to positioning it as the kingmaker of the New Cold War between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the jointly BRICS- & SCO-led Global South of which Delhi declared itself the voice after assuming chairmanship of the G20. With a foot in both de facto blocs due to its many mutually beneficial partnerships with their members that aren’t aimed at any of their opponents, India is perfectly placed to mediate between them.
In this particular context, however, its services aren’t actually required at the present owing to Ukraine’s insincerity in negotiating a peace deal with Russia that recognizes the objectively existing ground realities of the conflict. That being the case, it can therefore be concluded that India has already done the maximum possible by reiterating its request to both parties that they cease hostilities right away in order to immediately relieve some of the pressure that their conflict placed on the Global South.
Nothing is expected to influence India into deviating from this central point that underpins its policy of principled neutrality towards the Ukrainian Conflict. Emboldened by its chairmanship of the G20, India is actually predicted to encourage its peers across the Global South to more loudly voice their agreement with this position, which would remind Zelensky of what he inadvertently admitted during his trip to DC with respect to the vast majority of humanity wanting peace instead of perpetuating this US proxy war.