India called for an immediate de-escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine and cautioned that the situation is in danger of spiraling into a major crisis, just as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his decision to launch a 'military operation' in eastern Ukraine.
The 15-nation United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Ukraine late Wednesday night, the second meeting this week and the fourth since January 31 as tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine.
As the UNSC meeting was underway, during which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made a direct appeal to Putin to 'stop your troops from attacking Ukraine', the Russian leader announced a military operation in eastern Ukraine.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti told the Council that New Delhi had only two days ago at the Council meeting on Ukraine called for urgent de-escalation of tensions and emphasised on sustained and focused diplomacy to address all issues concerning the situation.
"However, we note with regret, that the calls of the international community to give time to the recent initiatives undertaken by parties to diffuse tensions were not heeded to. The situation is in danger of spiraling into a major crisis," he said.
India expressed its 'deep concern' over the developments, which, if not handled carefully, may well undermine the peace and security of the region.
India called for immediate de-escalation and refraining from any further action that could contribute to a worsening of the situation.
"We believe that the solution lies in sustained diplomatic dialogue between the concerned parties. In the meantime, we strongly emphasise the vital need for all sides to maintain international peace and security by exercising the utmost restraint," he said.
Tirumurti also underlined that more than 20,000 Indian nationals, including students, are located in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas.
"We are facilitating the return of all Indian nationals, including Indian students, as required," he said.
India called on all parties to exert greater efforts to bridge divergent interests, with Tirumurti underlining that the legitimate security interests of all parties should be fully taken into account.
India has consistently advocated at the United Nations the need for peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law and with agreements entered into by parties concerned.