Ukraine's envoy Igor Polikha sought India's urgent intervention as armed conflict with Russia started this morning, saying, "India is a very influential global player… We are asking for a strong voice of India". Pointing out that the situation may get out of control, Mr Polikha said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "one of the most powerful, respected" world leaders. "You have a privileged, strategic relation with Russia. If Modi ji speaks to Putin (Russian President Vladimir Putin), we are hopeful he will respond," he said at a press briefing in New Delhi.
Mr Putin ordered a "special military operation" this morning after weeks of escalated tension between Russia and its smaller neighbour. Russian tanks and other heavy equipment crossed into several northern regions, separatist controlled areas in eastern Ukraine which Russia formally recognised as independent nations, and the Kremlin-annexed peninsula of Crimea in the south.
"India should be much more actively engaged, given the privileged relation India has with Russia. Not just for our safety, but of your own citizen's safety too, we need intervention of India," Mr Polikha said, pointing to the 15,000-plus Indians currently living in Ukraine, whom the government is trying to evacuate.
In his speech, Mr Polikha also referred to India's history and mythology to trace its role in diplomacy and the non-aligned movement.
"I'm dealing with India from my young student years and I know a lot about your history of diplomacy. You had such bright guys… like Chanakya, or a he is otherwise called, Kautilya, approximately 2500 years back when on the major parts of Europe, there was no civilization," he said.
He also referred to the Mahabharata, saying even before the war, there were active attempts to solve the conflict. "India was among the architects of the world famous five principles, "Panchsheel... That's why at this moment we are asking, pleading the support of India," he added.
"Putin has just launched a full-blown attack. They must stop Putin now. It is a case of blatant aggression… the Russian statement is cynical. They are not just attacking military installations but we have suffered civilian casualties," he said.
Calling the conflict unexpected, Mr Polikha said for weeks, their President has been "repeatedly asking for bilateral negotiations with Russia, but (there was) no response". "We do not want protocol statements, it means nothing. We need support from the whole world," he added.
India has already called for de-escalation of hostilities, saying unless it is checked, it can "spiral into a major crisis" that can severely destabilize the region.
"We express our deep concern over the developments, which if not handled carefully, may well undermine the peace and security of the region," India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, TS Tirumurti has said.
"We call for immediate de-escalation and refraining from any further action that could contribute to a worsening of the situation. We call on all parties to exert greater efforts to bridge divergent interests," Mr Tirumurti said.