In the wake of worldwide calls for more penalties against Russia, India’s foreign minister condemned the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian village of Bucha and urged for an independent probe on Wednesday.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, aircraft and artillery have routinely attacked civilian targets, prompting international worries about war crimes.

As Russian forces withdraw from the Ukrainian capital’s outskirts, some of the most damning evidence of atrocities emerged this week from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha: mass graves and dead civilians on the streets — some with bound hands and gunshot wounds to the head, others mowed down by heavy vehicles.

In response to the reports from Bucha, the EU recommended fresh penalties against Russia, and several more European countries have expelled Russian diplomats.

During a parliamentary address on Wednesday, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told members that India was “very troubled” by the claims.

“Many honorable members (of Parliament) raised the situations, the events in Bucha,” he remarked. We strongly deplore the assassinations that have occurred there. We welcome the call for an independent investigation because this is a very serious subject.”

Despite extensive evidence presented by Ukrainian authorities, international media, and human rights organizations, Moscow has denied targeting civilians. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented “possible war crimes” by Russian soldiers in Bucha and other locations, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

India has frequently called for a stop to the violence in Ukraine, but has voted negative on several UN resolutions on the conflict as it tries to strike a compromise between its diplomatic connections with the West and its primary defense technology supplier, Russia.

Neither Jaishankar nor India’s permanent representative to the UN, who urged for an independent investigation into the Bucha killings on Tuesday evening, have publicly criticised Russia.
In addition, when referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory, Indian officials have avoided using the phrases “invasion” or “war.”
Prof. Harsh V. Pant, head of strategic studies at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, told Arab News, “This is keeping the Russian sensitivities in mind because Russia is not calling it a war.”

“Keeping Russia in good humor is crucial for India’s own operational requirement, which is defense,” he added, adding that India sought to balance the position of another superpower, China.

Since April 2020, when tensions on the border in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh led to an ongoing standoff and the deployment of tens of thousands of extra troops to the area, India-China relations have deteriorated substantially.
Pant stated, “India wants to build a communication line with Russia.” “There are some things India would have to do to ensure that Russia does not feel entirely isolated and ostracized, as this would strengthen the Russia-China axis.”
However, he went on to say that recent events have shown an improvement in India’s situation.

In response to Western criticism, Jaishankar appealed for respect for the United Nations Charter during a meeting with his Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov in New Delhi last week.
“India is gradually shifting its posture to declare that all countries, including Russia, must adhere to the UN Charter, international law, and territorial integrity,” Pant added. “It became difficult for India to take any other position once this carnage occurred.”

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