At a political level, if Russia-US, Russia-West relations become tense then India's relations with Russia become complicated

BANGALORE: The Russia-Ukraine crisis is likely to impact India in many ways, including the economy which is just emerging from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, besides putting pressure on the Indian government to balance its relations with Russia and the US.

Former diplomats with a deep understanding of the region and the evolving situation told The New Indian Express that while they need to wait and see how the situation develops further to get a clearer picture, the crisis resulting in greater tension between Russia and the West will impact India in many ways and at various levels.

"If the US and the West gets bogged down in Europe, then the US focus on Asia, China and its maritime security will dilute a bit and that is not in our interest as we are very closely engaged with the US on Indo-Pacific initiative for maritime security," PS Raghavan, a former diplomat and ex-chairman of National Security Advisory Board of India said on Thursday.

At a political level, if Russia-US, Russia-West relations become tense then India's relations with Russia become complicated. "We then have pressure from India-Russia relations and pressure from India-US relations. We had this in the past, too, from 2014 onwards and we have managed to keep our two relationships separate. So, this will be a continuous challenge at the political level," he said.

India needs to balance its reaction as it needs US' friendship, especially given the threat to Indian borders from China and its attempts to dominate the South China sea, while Russia has been its trusted ally for decades.

"India has to balance its reaction, support and everything so that you do not displease any of them and maintain their trust. You have to manage it. That is the most difficult situation for India. So far, India has managed to do it and we have called for de-escalation and resolution of the issue through discussions," said former Ambassador N Parthasarathi, a veteran diplomat with more than three decades of service in the Indian Foreign service who served as India's Ambassador to Republic of South Korea from 2005 to 2008 and to Senegal from 2008 to 2011. He hopes Russia will stop the war and get back to the discussion table.

The former diplomats also expressed concern over sanctions imposed against Russia impacting many countries, including India. "Oil prices will rise resulting in an increase in input costs and that could impact the Indian economy that is just coming out of the COVID-19 impact," said Parthasarathi.

The US and the European Union have threatened extreme sanctions against Russia. "Whatever sanctions they impose will have an impact on Russia and they will also have an impact on all of us. The globe is so inter-connected economically that it is very difficult to be insulated from the impact of economic sanctions," said Raghavan.