WITH a population of over 40 million spread over an expansive 600,000 square kilometres, Ukraine holds a prominent place among Europe’s largest countries. India, with its diverse interests, has nurtured a multifaceted bilateral relationship with Ukraine over time.
India’s association with Ukraine dates back to its early days of Independence. In December 1991, India was among the nations to formally acknowledge Ukraine’s sovereignty. Diplomatic ties were swiftly established in January 1992, and by May of the same year, the Embassy of India was inaugurated in Kyiv. Notably, India had maintained a Consulate in Odessa from 1962 until its closure in March 1999.
The economic engagement between India and Ukraine has shown a positive trajectory over the past 25 years. The bilateral trade surpassed the $2.8 billion mark in the fiscal year 2018-19, showcasing the growing economic interdependence.
However, the Russia-Ukraine conflict that began in February 2022 has cast its shadow. Prior to this conflict, the bilateral trade turnover stood at $2.52 billion in 2019-20. Indian exports surged by 18.68 per cent in 2019-20 as compared to the previous year. Key export items from India encompass pharmaceutical products, machinery, oil seeds, while Ukraine contributes with exports like sunflower oil and various chemicals.
The pharmaceutical sector has emerged as a significant linkage between India and Ukraine. Indian pharmaceutical companies, including Ranbaxy and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, have established their presence in Ukraine. India ranks as the third-largest exporter of pharmaceutical products to Ukraine in terms of value, trailing behind Germany and France.
Beyond economic collaborations, a thriving Indian community exists in Ukraine, primarily composed of professionals and students. With around 18,000 Indian students pursuing education, mainly in the medical field, and Indian professionals contributing across sectors like pharmaceuticals, IT, engineering, and education, the cross-cultural bond is palpable.
The “India Club”, founded by Indian expatriates in 2001, bridges cultural gaps by organising events such as Diwali festivals, Cricket tournaments, Holi celebrations, Indian dance festivals, Bollywood movie screenings, and more