India and China must play a bigger role in containing Russia’s war in Ukraine, but recent advances in the two nations’ rhetoric are significant, says an Australian lawmaker.
The head of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, Peter Khalil, says democratic governments must continue to uphold the international rule of law.
Mr. Khalil used a trip to the United States to meet lawmakers from 30 democratic nations as part of the Interparliamentary Alliance on China.
“In particular, the focus has been on how we are developing policy in relation to China … specifically how we can ensure our laws are serving their purpose in a very volatile time,” he told ABC on Monday.
The Labor MP also noted a shift towards India’s, and to a lesser extent China’s, rhetoric on the war.
“It is significant,” Mr Khalil said.
“The Chinese Communist Party has sort of committed itself to Russia.”
Mr. Khalil also questioned whether China’s concerns about Russia’s “failure” in Ukraine stemmed more from its strategic partner’s insecurity than from the Kremlin’s denial of international law.
“There might be some real concern in Beijing that the war is not going very well for their partner,” he said.
India and China have resisted joining Western sanctions against Russia and failed to explicitly condemn its invasion.
India’s stance has drawn the ire of democratic nations, particularly because it participates as a member of the Quad Security Dialogue, which includes Australia, the United States and Japan.
New Delhi has traditionally relied heavily on Russia for its military hardware and equipment.
But Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used a televised address to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – set up by Russia and China to counter US influence – to admonish Russia, saying “the present age is not a war”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also acknowledged that his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had expressed concerns about the war with him.
China expressed support for Russia’s “core interests” but also interest in working together to bring “stability” to world affairs.
There are also major concerns about possible actions by Mr Putin against Russia, which is reeling from a Ukrainian counter-offensive that has retaken the city of Kharkiv.
“The more Putin is cornered, the more he acts like a wounded animal thrashing about,” Mr Khalil said.
“The concern is that he could reach for chemical weapons or biological or even worse tactical nuclear weapons.
“We’re doing everything to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
The war in Ukraine will dominate discussions at the United Nations this week as world leaders prepare to meet in New York.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong will lead Australia’s delegation to the UN General Assembly.
Senator Wong will use Australia’s national declaration to outline its commitment to a rules-based order that respects sovereignty and warn that peace and prosperity are at risk.
“It is in Australia’s national interest to ensure a world where countries operate by agreed rules and norms and where outcomes are not determined solely by power and size,” Senator Wong said.
“It means we must work with others to solve common problems and advance our interests.”
The 77th General Assembly will take place from September 19th to 24th.