New Delhi, Apr 6 (EFE).- India on Wednesday expressed concern over the killing of civilians in Ukraine’s Bucha, issuing a condemnation without referring to Russia or its alleged role in the massacre, while stressing its “neutral” stance over the conflict.
“I want to say that we are deeply disturbed by the reports, and we strongly condemn the killings which have taken place,” Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in a speech in the parliament.
“This is an extremely serious matter and we support the call for an independent investigation,” he added, reiterating New Delhi’s stand in the United Nations Security Council meeting on the issue, held on Tuesday.
The city of Bucha, situated around 60 kms away from Kyiv, had been occupied by Russian forces for weeks during their siege of the Ukrainian capital, and after Moscow’s troops withdrew from the area last week to reassemble towards the east, disturbing images of bodies strewn around the streets and mass graves emerged from the area, sending shockwaves around the world.
Jaishankar insisted that “India continues to press forcefully for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an end to violence,” and has encouraged negotiations between the two sides, “including at the level of their presidents.”
“If India has chosen a side, it is the side of peace,” said the minister, echoing the Indian government’s neutral posture since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, which India has avoided condemning.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday defended India’s stance amid criticism by the international community.
“At a time when the world is divided into two blocs, India can take an independent stance for humanity. India has kept its national interests at the forefront,” Modi said at an event, covered by local media outlets.
Although India has appealed for a ceasefire and dialog between Moscow and Kyiv, it abstained from voting in the UN on a resolution condemning the Russian invasion and has not held Moscow directly responsible for the humanitarian crisis.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited New Delhi last week, and Indian authorities confirmed after the visit that they would continue buying oil from Russia despite international sanctions and pressure to isolate Moscow.
Russia is a long-term ally of India and one of its biggest weapons suppliers. EFE