- The first visit to India by a Ukrainian minister since the war began comes as New Delhi has refused to condemn the Russian invasion and maintains close ties with the Kremlin.
NEW DELHI (Agencies): Emine Dzhaparova, Ukraine’s first deputy foreign minister, has arrived in India for a four-day visit, the first by a Ukrainian government minister since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Dzhaparova is expected to hold talks with officials from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, including Meenakshi Lekhi, the minister of state for external affairs and culture. She will also meet Deputy National Security Adviser Vikram Misri.
Dzhaparova, a Crimean Tartar Muslim, is expected to meet with delegates from the Ministry of External Affairs to discuss the current situation in Ukraine and global issues of mutual interest, according to the Indian government.
India’s Hindu newspaper reported that Dzhaparova would call on India to send a “strong message for peace” to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will visit India in July for a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. He will return again in September for a G20 summit.
The Indian Council of World Affairs, a New Delhi-based think tank, said on Twitter that Dzhaparova would also give a talk on Tuesday called Russia’s War in Ukraine: Why the World Should Care.
Rajeswari Rajagopalan – the director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi – said she believes India will use the visit to discuss issues that include “food security, energy security and a whole range of fertiliser shortages”.
The war in Ukraine has had a major impact on global supply chains and international trade in food and fertilisers, which have disproportionately affected the Global South. Both Ukraine and Russia are leading suppliers of key food commodities, such as wheat, corn and sunflower oil, and Russia is also a top global exporter of fertiliser.
“India also projects itself as the voice of the Global South, so it is taking the message for a large set of countries who may be facing certain difficulties caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Rajagopalan said.
The Hindu newspaper cited diplomatic sources as saying Ukraine has requested more humanitarian aid from India, including drugs, medical equipment, and energy equipment to repair power infrastructure damaged during the war.
In October, Russia began an assault on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, hitting thermal and hydropower plants and the electrical grid. The attacks damaged about 60 per cent of Ukraine’s power plants and more than 40 per cent of its high-voltage grid infrastructure. As a result, Ukrainians endured rolling blackouts from October to February.
The energy transmission systems operator Ukrenergo, however, has warned against complacency, and Ukraine’s energy companies are now looking to stock up on equipment ahead of anticipated attacks next winter.
“There are companies in India that produce transformers,” said Antonina Antonsha, a spokeswoman for DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy provider. She said it can be a long process lasting nine to 12 months.