US President Joe Biden met virtually on Thursday with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India to discuss the Ukraine invasion, but the Quad group failed to agree on condemning Russia, with New Delhi hesitant to censure Moscow.
Washington has called on India to use its “leverage” with Moscow but at the conclusion of the talks, a joint statement said simply that the leaders had “discussed the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and assessed its broader implications”.
A separate statement from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office said he had “emphasised the need to return to a path of dialogue and diplomacy”.
India has repeatedly urged Russia and Ukraine to cease hostilities but has stopped short of condemning the deadly invasion.
Modi “underlined that the Quad must remain focused on its core objective of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region”, his office said.
The leaders jointly reaffirmed their “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states is respected”.
The statement affirmed that countries should be “free from military, economic, and political coercion”, which could be interpreted as a new warning to China over its regional ambitions.
The Quad grouping is seen as a bulwark against China, and there have been concerns in India and elsewhere that the Ukraine crisis could distract Washington from the region.
On Wednesday, India, which leaned towards the Soviet Union in the Cold War and maintains strong ties with Moscow, again abstained in a UN resolution deploring Russia’s actions.
- AFP, with additional editing by George Russell