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New Delhi: For the first time during the current Ukrainian conflict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has publicly spoken of the need to respect the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations”.
This principle of the global order was stressed during the phone conversations by Modi with prime ministers of two of Ukraine’s land neighbours, the Slovak Republic and Romania.
Two nearly identical readouts issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that Prime Minister Modi thanked his Slovakian counterpart Eduard Heger and Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă for their continuing support in the evacuation of Indian nationals. He also appreciated the permission given to India to operate special evacuation flights from their capitals.
The two statements also noted that the Indian PM “expressed his anguish at the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and reiterated India’s consistent appeal for cessation of hostilities and a return to dialogue”.
He then further and also spoke about the need to “respect territorial integrity”.
“Prime Minister Modi also stressed upon the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations,” said the statement.
While it wasn’t specified that Modi was referring to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the context was clear.
This was the first time that the Indian prime minister had referred to the principle of respecting territorial integrity since the Russian military rolled into Ukraine on February 24.
In his earlier phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Modi had expressed “deep anguish” at the loss of lives and the need to immediately stop hostilities, but there was no reference to the issue of territorial integrity. It was also absent in the February 24 readout of Modi’s conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
India’s permanent representative to India, T.S. Tirumurti had referred to maintaining respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations as part of the three key principles of global order in the last two Indian statements on Ukraine in UN Security Council.
“The global order is anchored on international law, UN Charter and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. We are all agreed on these principles,” he said on February 27.
Two days earlier, he stated, “The contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. All member states need to honour these principles in finding a constructive way forward”.