In the early days of the Ukraine invasion, India abstained on draft resolutions in the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly condemning Russia’s actions.

In a State Department cable to nearly 50 embassies that was retracted the next day, U.S. diplomats were instructed to tell their Indian counterparts that their “neutrality” on Ukraine put them “in Russia’s camp, the aggressor in this conflict.” This binary moral judgment is the result of a Manichean reframing of geopolitical rivalry as good versus evil with no room for nuance.

Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst with the Rand Corp. who served for over a decade in the U.S. intelligence community, recently tweeted: “The West will be watching closely for any shift in India’s Russia/Ukraine policy. I can’t envision a scenario in which the West is pleased with the outcome.” Pleasing the West doesn’t rate highly in India’s policy settings. Nor does it take kindly to threats of being disciplined by the enlightened West for wrong choices in foreign policy.