The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines plane – MH17 in Ukraine is not only sensational but also quite frightening. The entire world wants to know who downed this plane and what could be the possible intent behind doing so? The pro-Russia separatist group of Ukraine is under the scanner. Since they are allegedly backed by Russia, the entire world community is keeping an eye on Moscow. The missile system, which was used to down the Malaysia Airlines flight, could be operated by only a trained individual and the major questions is with whose assistance the separatists could execute this dreaded task. The immediate challenge in this incident is to gather evidence out of the MH17 debris so that this puzzle can be solved that who is responsible behind this atrocious occurrence. The entire series of events seems to be leaving a great deal of impact on international diplomatic arena as the world’s two superpowers – USA and Russia have come face-to-face in an all new manner. MH17 crashed at a time when both nations were already tense over the situation in Ukraine. America is accusing Russia of violating international rules and regulations in order to annex Crimea and liberate it from Ukraine. US, along with some of its allies, have also put economic sanctions on Russia. These countries are pressurizing Russia so that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine. The way US has blamed Russia over the MH17 incident and stated that the incident could have been prevented, may spell fresh series of tension between the two superpowers. Though Russia is fending off the allegations, it’s clear that it will have to face some tough questions.  

Both Russia and Ukraine were once a part of United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). Russia, by dint of its shape and size and power, was the most prominent country of the Soviet Union. However, after the disintegration of USSR, Russia not only got weakened but its clout and influence over the neighbouring countries also lessened to a considerable extent. Whatever happened along the Russian border with the Malaysia Airlines has drawn attention of the international community towards the separatists who are active in the former Soviet Union nations. Now it remains to be seen whether Russia stops backing Ukraine or not. Whatever be the outcome, it will have its profound effect on Indian diplomacy. Just a day before this horrendous incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the BRICS Summit, had laid foundation of a developmental bank in order to strengthen ties with Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa. During the meet, the BRICS countries also condemned the use of force in Gaza Strip by Israel. It’s natural that Western countries, especially United States won’t like this stance as Israel is its close strategic partner.

During BRICS Summit, Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin and invited him to visit India so that he can take a stock of the nuclear plans set up with Russian support in Tamil Nadu. Stressing on maintaining a close relationship with Russia, Modi also underlined this very fact that the country is quite crucial to India from strategic point of view. This very remark of Modi assumes significance to US as well. Modi is scheduled to visit US in September and he will meet Barack Obama also. It needs to be mentioned here that America was never comfortable with India’s friendship with Russia during the Cold War era. In the changed world order, America always tried to make India incline towards it. On the other hand, India has always given equal weightage to Russia as well as America. Due to this very stance, India has been able to establish an identity of its own before the world community.

The incident of MH17 crash is so serious that it can have some severe implications on the global equations. America and other western countries have blamed Russia for this incident. It’s also possible that this issue may create a massive hue and cry in the annual UN general meeting. If this happens, Indian diplomacy will face an acid-test like situation. One more challenge for India is the situation prevailing in West Asia. Whatever is happening in Gaza Strip after Iraq and Syria, is definitely not a good sign for India. The anarchy engineered by extremist organization ISIS in Iraq is not just confined to that country only. The activeness of this organization seems to be having an impact on the Indian Muslim community as well. The ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel is also influencing the community and this is in fact a matter of big concern for India that the ISIS has mentioned Kashmir in its agenda. Besides, there are several such organizations in Kashmir which can go to any extent and if they receive assistance from ISIS then the situation in hill state could deteriorate to a considerable extent.  The Muslim organizations of India not only need to understand the reality of ISIS but also maintain distance from them. The Indian Muslim community is not going to gain any dividend from these organizations which promote extremism in the name of Jihad. India is indeed going to find itself in a soup of sorts and the situation in West Asia could be a testing one and its glimpse could be seen over the Gaza issue rocking the House last week. The way government has not been able to provide a satisfactory answer to the Opposition over the issue indicates that this equation is quite crucial from political point of view.  At the same time, the government said that the Opposition’s demand to pass a resolution to debate on Gaza issue is nothing but a ploy to attract vote banks. The government should always keep in mind that whatever could be the domestic compulsion, it should not render any damage to diplomatic mechanism.

India has so far maintained a balanced approached towards the issue of Israel-Palestine conflict. It needs to be mentioned here that India played a significant role in giving recognition to Palestine as a separate nation but it’s also true that it has always co-operated with Israel when it came to safeguarding bilateral relations. India should not budge from its stand over this issue. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is right when she says that both Israel and Palestine are independent nations and there is no point in interfering in their internal conflicts. It would be good if those political parties, which are demanding a debate over the issue in the Parliament, understand this very point. India’s relation with Russia, Israel and Palestine should neither have any impact on other countries nor on national interests. Modi government should be prepared for all perspectives. The government, which came to power just one and half month back, is tackling with the problem of economic slowdown and weak monsoon. Now, it will have to face challenges from an entirely new outlook from global point of view. It should be expected that the new government will counter this challenge in a proper manner and the Opposition will also play a co-operative role.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on July 20, 2014 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)