Ukraine crisis will have consequences for whole world, including for India-Russia ties: Envoy

The current crisis in Ukraine will have consequences for the whole world, including for Russia-India relations, and the extent of its impact cannot be envisaged now, Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov said on Saturday.

At the same time, he said India can take advantage of the situation to bolster economic ties with Russia as Moscow’s Western partners have refused to cooperate with it.

The Russian envoy said the current situation has presented a “window of opportunity” for Indian businesses to expand their presence in Russia and that it would make sense for India to take a closer look at economic cooperation with Russia.

The remarks of the ambassador featured in a video posted by the Russian embassy on its Twitter handle.

“This crisis will have consequences for the whole world, including for the Russia-India relations. To what extent, it will be reflected, probably no one can say now,” Alipov said.

“We perceive from the fact that our relations are developing in the interests of the two countries and they are of strategic nature. There may be an impact in terms of transactions,” he said.

Referring to the possible impact of the Western sanctions on India-Russia ties, he said there is a bilateral mechanism for mutual settlements of transactions in national currencies.

“There is a working bilateral mechanism for mutual settlements in national currencies which is already being used. The only question is how to use it on a wider scale,” he said.

The ambassador suggested that the use of the mechanism widely will help in offsetting the impact of the sanctions.

“It makes sense for the Indians to take advantage of the situation when many Western partners refused to cooperate with us, and more actively penetrate the Russian market,” he said.

“This is a window of opportunity for Indian businesses. It also makes sense for India to take a closer look at cooperation with Russia,” Alipov said.

The ambassador also complimented India for its “independent” foreign policy.

“We have repeatedly stated that we welcome the independent foreign policy of India and strengthening of its role and influence in the international arena,” he said.

India has abstained from resolutions at the United Nations which were brought up to criticise Russia for its military aggression on Ukraine. “We never put any pressure on her (India) and do not set any conditions as you know. The Indians are now under severe pressure in the US,” Alipov said.

On the evacuation of stranded Indians from conflict zones in Ukraine, the Russian ambassador said his government has been trying its best to take them out from eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Sumy and Pisochyn.

Alipov claimed that around 3,000 Indians are stuck in Kharkiv, nearly 900 in Pisochyn and 670 in Sumy.

However, at a media briefing on Saturday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the safe exit of Indians from Kharkiv and Pisochyn is almost complete.

“Pisochyn has been evacuated of all Indian citizens. The mission will continue to remain in touch with them through their journey,” the Indian embassy in Ukraine tweeted in the evening.

Bagchi said India is now focusing on evacuating around 700 Indian students from Sumy, a city in eastern Ukraine that is around 60 km from the Russian border.

“The Indians turned to us for help and we responded. We created special groups that are ready to take the Indians to Russian territory and then transport them to India.

“But the catch is that the fighting in these areas continues and where the Indians are, our forces are not. There is no way to pick them up. We have to meet in some places that are not under fire from Ukraine,” Alipov said.

He said the Russian side doesn’t have access to these areas and that fighting has been going on with the Ukrainian troops.

The envoy said Russia has kept ready hundreds of buses along its borders for transporting the stranded Indians.

“Our buses are waiting and will wait as long as it takes,” he said.

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