Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014

Ask your ‘friend’ Moscow to stop, Kiev tells Delhi

At the site of the crash in Donetsk, Ukraine, a body and a rose on Friday. (REUTERS) At the site of the crash in Donetsk, Ukraine, a body and a rose on Friday. (REUTERS)
Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Posted: July 19, 2014 3:42 am

The Ukrainian mission in India asked New Delhi on Friday to tell its “friend” Russia to correct its mistakes, and stop supporting those who had shot down a civilian aircraft.

Unfazed Russian diplomats in India agreed the incident was “tragic”, but blamed “miscalculation” by “some party”, and recalled a 2001 incident when Ukraine had shot down a Russian plane “by mistake”.

A day after the catastrophic missile attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, the Malaysian and Dutch missions in Delhi were in mourning.

At the Malaysian High Commission on Satya Marg, reeling from the incredible bad luck of losing two aircraft of the national carrier with over 530 people on board in the space of 4 months, officials offered prayers during the day. A senior Malaysian diplomat who declined to be named, said Eid celebrations were expected to be “sombre” and may even be “postponed”.

The embassy of the Netherlands, which has lost 189 of its citizens in the disaster, was flooded with messages and calls offering condolences. The Dutch flag over the Embassy building had been lowered to half mast, diplomat Robert Zimmer said. Grieving officials at the Embassy rued the cruelty of innocent Dutch lives becoming “collateral casualty” of the war between Ukraine and Russia.

Sitting in Kiev’s modest embassy building in South Delhi’s Vasant Vihar, spokesperson Roman Pyrih told The Indian Express, “If you have a good friend, and if he makes a mistake, you should point out to him and ask him to correct his mistakes.”

India, Pyrih said, must tell its friend Russia to “respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and not support those who brought down the plane with missiles”.

“We want Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reiterate what his predecessor Manmohan Singh told Russian President Vladimir Putin in March, and supported the principle of terrirtorial integrity of Ukraine,” Pyrih said, referring to the March 19 phone conversation between the two leaders, during which Singh had stressed India’s consistent position on the “unity and territorial integrity” of nations.

Pyrih, however, also recalled then National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon’s statement on Russia’s “legitimate interests”, and said that he had found it “disturbing”.

“We hope the new Indian government will stand firm on the territorial integity issue. We just want peace and territorial integity,” the Ukrainian diplomat said.

At a meeting with Putin in Brazil this week, Prime Minister Modi had told the Russian President that even a child in India would name Russia as India’s best friend, because “Russia has been with India in times of crisis”.

Pyrih blamed Moscow squarely for Thursday’s attack on the Malaysian aircraft. “In the last few days, it was clear that these terrorists had acquired advanced weapons, since some of them were able to hit a fighter plane at 6,000 metres. Ukraine’s defence continued…

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