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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In a State Department cable to nearly 50 embassies that was retracted the next day, U.S. diplomats were instructed to tell their Indian counterparts that their “neutrality” on Ukraine put them “in Russia’s camp, the aggressor in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.

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