Thursday, June 30, 2022
June 30, 2022

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Biden: Leaders navigating ‘dark hour’ after Ukraine invasion

The Columbian
Published:

TOKYO — President Joe Biden told fellow Indo-Pacific leaders assembled for a four-country summit Tuesday that they were navigating “a dark hour in our shared history” due to Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine and he urged the group to make a greater effort to stop Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

“This is more than just a European issue. It’s a global issue,” Biden said as the “Quad” summit with Japan, Australia and India got under way.

While the president did not directly call out any countries, his message appeared to be pointed, at least in part, at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom differences persist over how to respond to the Russian invasion.

Unlike other Quad countries and nearly every other U.S. ally, India has not imposed sanctions or even condemned Russia, its biggest supplier of military hardware.

With Modi sitting nearby, Biden made the case that the world has a shared responsibility to do something to assist Ukrainian resistance against Russia’s aggression.

“We’re navigating a dark hour in our shared history,” he said. “The Russian brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe and innocent civilians have been killed in the streets and millions of refugees are internally displaced as well as in exile.”

“The world has to deal with it, and we are,” he added.

For several of the bigger Asian powers, the invasion has been seen as a crucial moment for the world to demonstrate by a strong response to Russia that China should not try to seize contested territory through military action.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, taking note of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, told the other leaders: “We cannot let the same thing happen in the Indo-Pacific region.”

A reminder of tensions in the region came during Biden’s trip. Chinese and Russian strategic bombers conducted joint flights around Japan on Tuesday.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi described the exercise as a “threat” and “an increased level of provocation,” and said the cooperation between China and Russia was “concerning and unacceptable.”

The White House has been effusive in its praise of several Pacific countries, including Japan, Singapore and South Korea, for stepping up to hit Russia with tough sanctions and export bans while offering humanitarian and military assistance to Kyiv.

However, the White House has been disappointed with the relative silence of India, the world’s biggest democracy.

After a one-on-one meeting with Modi in Japan, Biden said they discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “and the effect it has on the entire global world order.” Biden added that the U.S. and India will continue to consult “on how to mitigate these negative effects.”

But in a reflection of India’s relationship with Moscow, the Quad leaders’ post-summit joint statement made no mention of Russia.

In his comments, Modi did not refer to the war in Ukraine, instead ticking off several trade and investment programs that he discussed with the president.

Biden has asked Modi not to accelerate the buying of Russian oil as the U.S. and other allies look to squeeze Moscow’s energy income. The Indian prime minister made no public commitment to get off from Russian oil, and Biden has publicly referred to India as “somewhat shaky” in its response to the invasion.

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