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Are US top officials split over India’s neutral stand on Ukraine?

US President Joe Biden convened a meeting of the National Security Council in the White House Situation Room to discuss the unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine. (Photo: ANI)

The US State Department has withdrawn a controversial diplomatic cable sent to 50 of its embassies worldwide stating that India and UAE’s neutral position on Ukraine at the UN puts them in “Russian camp.” 

The cable had asked the US diplomats to build pressure on their Indian and UAE counterparts to vote against Russia. While the UAE did vote against Russia at the UN General Assembly after the cable was sent, India stood firm on staying neutral and abstained from voting.

The US State Department said the cable has been withdrawn because it included “inaccurate language and was released in error.”

According to media reports, there appears to be a sharp difference between the hardliners in the US administration and the more reasonable amongst them who are willing to accept that India has long standing strategic and security ties with Russia. Also in the current circumstances, India has as many as 20,000 citizens, mainly medical students, stuck in Ukraine and New Delhi needed to be in touch with both Ukraine and Russia to bring them back.

Interestingly US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has gone on record in understanding India’s stand.

“America understands that India has a special relationship with Russia including in the defence and security sector and that is okay,” Ned Price had said on Friday.

"We share important interests with India. We share important values with India. And we know India has a relationship with Russia that is distinct from the relationship that we have with Russia. Of course, that is okay," Price told journalists at a press conference in Washington.

"India has a relationship with Russia that we certainly don't have. India and Russia have a relationship, including in the defence and security sector, that we don't have. … we have asked every country that has a relationship and certainly those countries that have leverage to use that leverage in a constructive way," he said in response to a question.

According to the report of American media Axios which broke the story, the reminder of this very hard-pressed cable message shows that there is a policy dispute going on within the US government over the issue. The diplomatic cable or confidential message sent to different embassies abroad from Washington is checked by various officials.

The diplomatic cable, which was sent to US embassies in about 50 countries just before the UN Human Rights Council meeting on Monday, was withdrawn on Tuesday.

Also read:  India has a special relationship with Russia and that is okay, says top US official