Images of mass graves and bodies of civilians reportedly executed in the Kyiv suburb have shocked the world.
India’s condemnation at the UN meeting is the strongest statement it has made since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Delhi has so far abstained from UN votes condemning Russia’s actions.
In a statement on Tuesday at the UN Security Council meeting, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations TS Tirumurti said the country “remained deeply concerned at the worsening situation and reiterates its call for immediate cessation of violence and end to hostilities”.
“The situation in Ukraine has not shown any significant improvement since the Council last discussed the issue. The security situation has only deteriorated, as well as its humanitarian consequences,” Mr Tirumurti said.
“We hope the international community will continue to respond positively to the humanitarian needs. We support calls urging for guarantees of safe passage to deliver essential humanitarian and medical supplies.”
India has a long history of pursuing a non-aligned foreign policy but is under pressure from Western countries over its diplomatic balancing act. Delhi and Moscow also share a decades-old relationship, and Russia is also India’s biggest defence supplier.
India recently also placed contracts for nearly six million barrels of Russian crude after prices slumped in the wake of Western sanctions on Russia. But the Indian government says this is “literally a drop, in a larger bucket” of its oil imports globally.
Last week, Delhi was criticised by the US and Australia for considering a Russian offer that was seen as circumventing the sanctions.
The civilian killings in Bucha were uncovered after Russian troops withdrew from the town. The mayor, Anatoli Fedoruk, said on Monday that at least 300 civilians had been killed, but there is no official tally yet.
‘Delhi-Moscow ties to be tested’
India’s support for an independent inquiry into civilian killings in Bucha is hardly surprising.
It stopped short of blaming or naming Russia for the violence in Bucha, which was in line with its policy of neutrality over Ukraine.
The West has so far appeared to be accommodating of India’s stand, which largely stems from its reliance on Russian defence equipment and its historical ties with Moscow.
But as allegations of atrocities in Ukraine mount, so will the pressure on Delhi to take a clearer stand.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday said that Washington wanted Delhi to scale down its defence dependence on Russia. If his statement is a sign of things to come, India’s policy of pushing for diplomacy over Ukraine will be seriously tested.