Ukrainians fail in bid to oust Russians from Delhi group

Thirteen days into Russia’s invasion, echoes of the conflict are being heard far beyond the battlefields of Ukraine — in the diplomatic corridors of New Delhi.

The Indian Express has learnt that the diplomatic defence corps of Ukraine in the national capital made a failed bid to “sanction” their Russian counterparts and keep them out of the Foreign Service Attaches and Adviser Association in India (FSAAA).

The FSAAA is described as a “private” association of defence attaches and diplomats handling defence matters, who are posted in New Delhi, and has members from 63 countries, including those in the European Union. There are seven Russian members accredited to the FSAAA and two Ukranians.

Members of the FSAAA told The Indian Express that last week, representatives of Ukraine, backed by the EU members, moved a request for the Russian members to be excluded from all affairs and events of the association. It is understood that the sensitive issue was taken up at a meeting of the FSAAA’s Executive Board two days ago, following which the defence attaches were informed that the move had been rejected.

The reasons cited were two-fold: charter rules of the FSAAA and sensitivity of relations with the host country in which the FSAAA operates, which is India in this case. It is understood that members are now expecting further details from the Executive Board on deliberations over the Ukrainian move.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Dean of FSAAA, Brigadier General Phumzile Callingworth Zamile Fongoqa, who is Defence Attache of South Africa in New Delhi, confirmed the development and described deliberations on the subject as “internal and private”.

“We are an association which is apolitical and set up for better communication between all Defence Attaches and India. Our charter does not permit bilateral matters to be taken up and we have to operate within the guidelines. This was discussed at the meeting of the Executive Board,” the FSAAA Dean said.

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