Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to the biggest showdown between Moscow and the West in decades. Both compete to convince some of the most powerful countries in the world, namely China and India, to take sides in the conflict.

Both Russia and the UK sent their foreign ministers to India on Thursday, leading to a somewhat awkward diplomatic showdown as both sides sought to woo Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over trade and war in Ukraine.

Ahead of official visits, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said her goal was to convince the Delhi administration that “deeper ties between the UK and India will enhance security in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world, as well as create jobs and opportunities in both countries.” This is even more important in the context of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” she said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose visit ends Friday, has sought to strengthen trade ties and sell more oil to India as it faces a massive boycott of energy imports in Europe and the United States.

Top US adviser Duleep Singh also traveled to India on Wednesday for a two-day trip to “consult in depth with colleagues on the implications of Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine and mitigating its impact on the global economy.” House said.

Western countries that have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine are trying to cut off Moscow’s economic retreat, such as those offered by oil and gas sales to China and India. Russia, for its part, is seeking to circumvent sanctions thanks to the allegiances it has forged with its Asian neighbors.

Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24, condemnation of Moscow’s aggression has been almost universal. But some countries allied or friendly to Russia were more ambiguous.

On March 2, 141 countries voted in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion. Five countries – Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Syria and, of course, Russia – voted against and 35 abstained, including China and India. Since then, further votes have taken place on other resolutions condemning the war, with China and India maintaining their neutral stance.

India and China
It is believed that both China and India fear a war behind closed doors. Of particular concern to China is the uncertainty it brings to global relations and trade. India, for its part, has extensive defense ties with Russia and is an importer of Russian oil.

Analysts say both powers are hoping for a ceasefire as soon as possible, despite President Vladimir Putin showing little sign of a de-escalation in the conflict.

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