Ukraine's ambassador to India, Igor Polikha. (Twitter)
New Delhi: Expressing "deep dissatisfaction" with the stand taken by India so far amid the "full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia", the country’s ambassador to India, Igor Polikha, on Thursday "pleaded" for direct Indian mediation to solve the Ukraine crisis and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt the Russian military offensive against Ukraine.
Hailing Mr Modi as one of the most "powerful and respected" world leaders, a visibly emotional ambassador said he hoped that if Mr Modi speaks out in a "strong voice", President Putin would listen and "think it over", adding that New Delhi had very close strategic ties with Moscow and the "world must stop Putin". He said his country expected a "much more favourable attitude" from India.
Pointing out that India had so far said it was closely monitoring the situation, a disappointed Mr Polikha said that he had conveyed his "dissatisfaction" and plea for mediation and support to New Delhi and had got the response that his requests were "under consideration". He also said that ensuring the safety and well-being of the 20,000 Indian students in Ukraine was the task not just of Ukraine but also of India. The envoy hoped India can provide support and assistance through either a verbal condemnation of Russia’s actions, economic sanctions, humanitarian or military assistance to Ukraine and the cancellation of bilateral engagements with Russia.
Ukraine’s envoy also said the armed forces of his country had shot down five Russian military aircraft, two helicopters and destroyed two Russian battle tanks, but said that Ukraine had suffered both military and civilian casualties.
At a hurriedly-convened media briefing at the Ukraine embassy in New Delhi, Mr Polikha said: "I am speaking to you in tragic circumstances. (Russian President) Putin had launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ukranian cities are under strikes. Ukraine will defend itself. The world must stop Putin. It is a case of blatant aggression."
The ambassador said: "India is an influential global player. I am asking and pleading for Indian support… (PM) Modi ji is one of the most powerful and respected leaders of the world. India has a privileged partnership with Russia… I am hopeful that in case of the strong voice of Modi ji, (President) Putin should at least think over. I hope for a much more favourable attitude of the Indian government." He added: "I plead for the strong voice of India. Your Prime Minister can address Mr Putin and our (Ukranian) President. India has played a peacekeeping role (in the past). I am asking for the strong voice f India to stop the war."
Pointing out that India had so far said it was monitoring the situation, the Ukraine ambassador said: "I am deeply dissatisfied with this position… I am not satisfied by a protocol statement."