India’s ambassador to the United Nations condemned the killings of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, marking a noticeable shift in Indian officials’ public approach to the invasion of Ukraine by its long-time partner Russia.
T.S. Tirumurti, India's Permanent Representative to the UN, called reports of the killings “deeply disturbing” during a UN Security Council meeting Tuesday.
“We unequivocally condemn these killings and support the call for an open investigation,” Tirumurti said, without naming Russia.
“The situation in Ukraine has not shown any significant improvement since the Council last discussed the issue. The situation has only deteriorated, as well as its humanitarian consequences,” he said.
Some context: Previous statements issued by the Indian government have fallen short of condemning Russia’s aggression, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead appealing for a “cessation of violence.”
India has also abstained from various UN resolutions condemning Russia, maintaining that peace talks should be held and the two nations focus on “diplomacy and dialogue.”
Criticism from opposition at home: Tirumurti made his statement on the same day as India’s opposition Congress Party expressed concerns over the nation’s position on the war.
During a parliamentary discussion on the issue, Shashi Tharoor described India’s first UN statement in February as “deplorable.”
“I was shocked, I’ll say very honestly, at our first couple of statements at the United Nations … it was not just the abstention,” Tharoor said.
Fellow Congress Party lawmaker Manish Tewari spoke on the evolving geopolitics, saying “this new Iron Curtain has the potential of actually dividing the world,” and added that India “may not have the option of being able to sit atop this new Iron Curtain.”
“…Russia has been a trusted friend of India, and it has been a long-standing ally. Russia has come to India's aid in probably our most difficult times … But then Mr. Speaker, sir, friends also have to be told if they are wrong, that they possibly need to get their act together,” Tewari said.
Discussion is scheduled to continue Wednesday with India’s Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar to respond.