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Ukraine crisis: Russia welcomes India's 'independent' position

Ukraine crisis: Russia welcomes Indias independent position
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New Delhi: Russia on Wednesday welcomed India's "independent position" on the Ukraine crisis and said its views on the issue at the UN Security Council was reflective of the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries.

Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin said India has been playing a vital role as a responsible global power and it takes an "independent and balanced" approach to world affairs.

He also said that the crisis would not impact India-Russia ties, including in areas of defence and that there will be a "huge" Russian participation in the DefExpo in Gujarat next month.

"We welcome the independent position of India which it took twice at the UN Security Council and which was expressed openly by the Indian External Affairs minister and other officials," he said at an online media briefing.

"The Indian activities at the UN Security Council are fully reflecting the merit of our special and privileged strategic partnership," he added.

Amid escalating tension between Moscow and the West after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway Ukrainian regions as independent states, India at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday night called for "restraint on all sides".

It stressed that the immediate priority is "de-escalation of tensions", taking into account the legitimate security interests of all countries and aimed towards securing long term peace and stability in the region and beyond.

Specifically asked whether the Western sanctions will adversely impact India-Russia defence cooperation, including supply of S-400 missile systems, Babushkin did not give a direct reply but indicated that all the projects will continue.

"We keep in mind the possibility of the negative influence of sanctions with regard to our cooperation in particular affairs, including defence. But at the same time, when it comes to our case with India, we have very strong and trusted cooperation," he said.

Babushkin further added: "We continue our work with our Indian partners in defence. We have big plans and we hope that our partnership will continue further at the same level we are enjoying today."

He said the Western sanctions against Russia will negatively affect the Russian economy and banking system, adding the punitive measures will create instability to the global economy as they will lead to an "atmosphere of distrust and fear". Babushkin said the Russia-India partnership is based on a strong and solid foundation and that his country was open to sharing sophisticated technologies with India.

He also said that Russia's participation in India's DefExpo next month will be "huge".

The Russian diplomat said India and Russia don't "threaten" each other with unilateral sanctions and don't interfere in each other's domestic affairs.

Meanwhile, Indian students, largely those studying medicine, hailing from Delhi to Gujarat who arrived here from Ukraine said they were happy to be back in their home country amid escalating tensions between Russia and the eastern European country.

Most of the students, soon after their arrival on Tuesday night, said they followed the advisory issued by the Indian Embassy in Kyiv.

Anil Rapriya, 22, a fourth-year MBBS student at the Kharkiv National Medical University (KNMU) in Kharkiv city, just after landing at Delhi airport, said, "I am feeling happy to be back in my country. There is nothing to panic there. I have just moved to India as the Indian Embassy asked us to leave the country temporarily given the evolving situation in Ukraine," he said on phone. His family lives in Nangloi in Delhi.

Anil's brother, Manish Rapriya was waiting anxiously at the T3 terminal's arrival lounge.

"He had gone for his MBBS course in 2018. I spoke to him on phone after he landed at the Delhi airport. We are glad that he's back, as the situation can change given the tensions between Russia and Ukraine," he said.

Manish, 21, is pursuing his MA in political science from IGNOU.

On Tuesday, the Indian embassy in Kyiv again asked Indian students to temporarily leave the country amid the rising tensions. A group of medical students arrived in a batch at the Delhi airport, taking Turkish Airlines from Kyiv to Istanbul and then to Qatar, and then from there to Delhi via Qatar Airways.

Kirtan Kalathiya, Nirav Patel, Vinit Patel from Bhavnagar, and Krish Raj from Surendra Nagar in Gujarat were among the students who returned to Delhi from Ukraine.

"We all study at the Bukovinian State Medical University (BSMU) at Chernivtsi. We have informed our college authorities that we are leaving and classes will now be online. Things are fine in Chernivtsi, as it is quite far from the border area," Raj said. Apoorva Bhushan from Ranchi and Hardik Dogra from Rajkot study at Bogomolets National Medical University in Kyiv. They arrived in Delhi via an Air India flight AI 1946 around 11.40 pm.

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