March 30, 2022

Why the World’s Largest Democracy Won’t Back Ukraine

Featuring Lisa Curtis

Source: Slate

Journalist Nitish Pahwa

As the war in Ukraine has raged on, no country has found itself in a more awkward diplomatic position than India.

While most of the world’s major democracies have rallied to Ukraine’s cause, the world’s largest democracy has conspicuously declined to publicly take sides in the conflict. Earlier this month, India joined with 34 other countries that abstained from the United Nations’ motion condemning Russia’s attack, and it has continued to abstain from U.N. General Assembly motions taking stances against Moscow’s aggression.


Why won’t India just join its friends and back Ukraine? There are, in fact, many reasons the South Asian powerhouse would not wish to jeopardize its ties to Russia—and why its own varying self-interests might preclude it from joining a grand battle for liberal democracy.

For starters, Russia is the subcontinent’s most important weapons dealer. Its tools account for up to 60 percent of India’s current defense arsenal, including missile systems that were subject to sanctions by the U.S. since before the Ukraine crisis. “India is highly dependent on Russian military gear,” Lisa Curtis, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, wrote in an email. If India is “to face another military crisis with either Pakistan or China, it will rely on Russian military equipment to protect itself.”

Read the full story and more from Slate.


  • Lisa Curtis

    Senior Fellow and Director, Indo-Pacific Security Program

    Lisa Curtis is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at CNAS. She is a foreign policy and national security expert with over 20 years of service in...