Russia has invaded Ukraine, but the US and its allies are not seen anywhere responding ‘decisively’. Biden’s ineptness, however, doesn’t absolve Putin of his violent action.

India’s refusal to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is politically dangerous. The origins of such an attitude lie in a—if not the—most serious disease our country suffers from: hatred for and irrational fear of the West. Just because our political leaders don’t want to be seen as, in Left phraseology, “the lackeys of America”, they have decided to place the non-alignment dogma over national interest.

So, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, T.S. Tirumurti, said at the UNSC meeting, “The escalation of tension along the border of Ukraine with the Russian Federation is a matter of deep concern. These developments have the potential to undermine peace and security of the region.”

This is no “escalation of tension,” Mr Tirumurti; this is a brazen attack on a sovereign nation by a big bully, which has historically terrorised its neighbours. On few moral and rational grounds Putin’s belligerence can be justified. He accuses Ukraine of genocide, but provides no evidence of mass murders. He says that he wants to shield people from bullying; he claims that he stands for the “demilitarization and de-Nazification” of Ukraine.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. “How could I be a Nazi?” he asked incredulously.

In Putin’s scheme of things, any regime in Ukraine which is not pro-Russia—like the one under President Viktor Yanukovych, who was removed in 2014—is extremist.

The only justification for Putin’s anger at the West, but not attack against Ukraine, is that the US and European nations have not been appreciative of his concerns about NATO expansion. No superpower wants a hostile neighbour, however small it may be. Washington never wanted a Left-led Cuba; the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missiles Crisis the next year were the consequences. Now, Russia is asserting a similar right as a superpower.

The US scoffed at such an expectation. Worse, it kept comforting Ukraine that it would help the east European nation in the eventuality of an attack. A month ago, US President Joe Biden spoke to Zelenskyy. The White House issued a comforting statement: “President Biden reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine. He also underscored the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Well, Russia has invaded Ukraine, but the US and its allies are not seen anywhere responding “decisively.”

Biden’s ineptness, however, doesn’t absolve Putin of his violent action. For instead of resolving the issue of NATO presence in his backyard by dialogue and diplomacy, he has decided to launch a military attack, which has killed 137 people (at the time of writing these lines), brought untold misery for millions of people, and brought not just the victim nation to a standstill but also has had huge repercussions for the rest of the world.

After all, Russia is not just another country; quite apart from having one of the strongest militaries in the world, it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with veto power.

European nations have been not just inept but also hypocritical. They rarely went beyond strong condemnation of Pakistan and its patron China when Indian interests in Kashmir, Galwan, and elsewhere were involved; they were unbothered so long as the menace of rogue states was distant; but now that a bully in the neighbourhood has started flexing its muscles, European leaders are lecturing India to take a stand against Russia.

While Europeans’ stand smacks of hypocrisy, India’s not taking sides is against its own interests. As it is, the US-led alliance was uneasy with India’s defence ties with Russia, the latter being the largest exporter of arms to India. The recent purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system has the potential of attracting US sanctions.

After the Ukraine attack, the unease may grow into downright hostility. This will not only hurt our arms imports from Western nations but also have an adverse effect on our economy, as we seek investment from Western companies.

Worse, these setbacks will not be offset by the benefits of our relations with Russia. For one, it doesn’t have much to offer in terms of our economic development. Second, Russia is getting close to China, two emerging as an axis of evil, though the latter is infinitely more vile than the former.

Had India condemned the Russian attack, it would have not just gained respect in Western countries but also made it clear to Russia that we can’t be taken for granted. Our fetish for the failed doctrine of non-alignment has again let the nation down.