New Delhi: India’s decision to resume its embassy’s operations in Ukraine’s Kyiv is more than a mere symbolic expression of solidarity with Ukraine. New Delhi’s move to reopen its embassy in the Ukrainian capital is, in fact, part of a larger diplomatic strategy of the Narendra Modi government, The Sunday Guardian has learnt. Sources told The Sunday Guardian: “As part of this strategy, India is in a hurry to restore full and normal diplomatic activities in Kyiv from day one, even as the US is yet to resume its normal diplomatic operations in the Ukrainian capital. India is so far the first and only Quad member state to be resuming the embassy in the capital of the war-torn country, with full-fledged diplomatic presence of the United States, Japan and Australia yet to be seen there.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine, which was temporarily working out of Polish capital Warsaw, will return to Kyiv from 17 May, the Ministry of External Affairs announced here on Friday. The development assumes significance ahead of PM Modi’s upcoming meeting with the US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Quad summit in Tokyo on 24 May. “The summit will definitely take up the Ukraine war as a key talking point and resumption of India’s diplomatic activities in Kyiv will be a message to the Quad partners, who always wanted New Delhi to join them to condemn Russia,” an official said. India’s move to be diplomatically active in Kyiv once again is a message to the Quad countries and the entire West that New Delhi has always been on the side of the peace and “it has taken the right stance at the right time”. “Peace and normalcy are what India is focused on, and reopening of its embassy in Kyiv signifies this policy of New Delhi,” a diplomat said. “It should not also be interpreted as a gesture against Russia,” he added.

Sources said that the American diplomats are slowly returning to Ukraine and they are still based in Poland. They are making trips to Ukraine briefly in daytime and returning after spending some time there, sources added. “While some of the European countries’ missions are back in Kyiv, they are yet to make their presence felt,” a source told this newspaper. “Their ambassadors are not regular in the embassies, with diplomatic activities reduced to dealing with some files and that’s all,” said officials.

According to sources, the Indian embassy has clear instructions from the top leadership that it has to start coordinating with the government, diplomats and other officials in Ukraine from day one so as to boost ties between New Delhi and Kyiv. “Indian diplomats are supposed to be actively coordinating with other countries’ missions to ensure that humanitarian issues are addressed in the war-torn zone. This is something that reaffirms what PM Modi has been pitching for,” diplomats said.

While calling for an immediate halt to war and violence in Ukraine, PM Modi has always given importance to the safety and security of common people living in the strife-torn region. Under his guidance and supervision, India reached out to people in Ukraine with humanitarian assistance and medicine, a step that was admired by US President Joe Biden, UK PM Boris Johnson, the European Union and the United Nations. “Again, PM Modi’s focus is on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the Indian embassy has its task cut out for the same as it starts its operations in Kyiv once again,” sources said. The feedback from Ukraine suggests that the people in Kyiv and other war-hit areas of the country have hailed New Delhi’s decision to reopen the embassy. “This is a testimony to India’s right approach amid the violence in Ukraine despite the West’s pressure on it to take one side or the other,” an official pointed out.

Highly-placed sources told The Sunday Guardian that PM Modi is planning to establish telephonic contact with the Ukrainian and Russian leaders once again in a bid to motivate them to resolve the problem through diplomacy and dialogue. The Indian embassies to Ukraine and Russia would work to facilitate this high-level communication in future, sources added. PM Modi is expected to be more active to ensure that the hostilities between Kyiv and Moscow come to an end as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, India’s announcement is significant as it comes days after the 9 May Victory Day speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who did not announce any fresh escalation of the special military operation in his speech.