When India condemned the killings of civilians in Ukraine's Bucha at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday and sought an independent investigation, it did not mention Russia once.
Remarks by Indian officials and analysts suggest the condemnation, the first by New Delhi since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, will not mean an end to long-standing defence and trade ties between India and Russia despite pressure from the West and within some quarters in India.
"India's approach should be guided by our national beliefs and values, by our national interest and by our national strategy," Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told parliament on Wednesday.
He said Europe, for example, was buying Russian energy despite the tension.
"So what should India do in these circumstances? At the time when energy costs have spiked, clearly, we need to ensure that the common person in India is not subject to an additional and unavoidable burden. Similarly, fertiliser prices have a direct implication for the livelihoods of the majority of our population."
Russia is India's biggest supplier of military hardware and Jaishankar said even the security of the nation was at stake. Russia is also a major supplier of fertiliser to India.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, India has bought some 16 million barrels of Russian oil - the same amount it imported from the country in the whole of last year - attracted by big discounts when global prices are high. It has also ordered thousands of tonnes of sunflower oil from Russia.
U.S. officials have told India there is no ban on energy imports from Russia but they do not want to see "rapid acceleration" in such purchases. The United States has repeatedly said https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2022/04/06/press-briefing-by-press-secretary-jen-psaki-april-6-2022 that it was willing to sell more oil as well as defence equipment to India as it faces a superior Chinese military at their disputed border.
On Tuesday, T.S. Tirumurti, India's permanent representative to the United Nations, told a meeting of the Security Council that reports of civilian killings in Bucha were "deeply disturbing".
"We unequivocally condemn these killings and support the call for an independent investigation," he said.
An outspoken lawmaker from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, Subramanian Swamy, has urged the government to condemn the Russian invasion itself as an "onslaught on democracy".
But analysts said India's position at the Security Council was not an indicator of any strains in Moscow-New Delhi ties, days after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the Indian capital to smoothen trade and other ties, including a rupee-rouble payments system.
"Given that India has used the word 'condemned' in its statement even if without naming Russia, this is a shift from the previous stand," said Happymon Jacob, a professor of international studies at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.
"But this is too small a shift to be considered a significant change in the Indian policy towards Russia."
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)