Japan redraws Ukraine aid flight plan after India refuses aircraft to land

Japan is redrawing its plan for transporting humanitarian aid supplies to displaced Ukrainians after Tokyo said India had refused to let Self-Defense Forces aircraft land in the country.

The plan was for an Air Self-Defense Force plane to pick up relief items at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees supply depots in India and the United Arab Emirates, then drop them off in Poland and Romania, neighbors of Ukraine that have taken in large numbers of refugees.

Japan intended for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to greenlight the proposal Thursday, followed by the cabinet as early as Friday, with shipments to begin this month. But “a situation has arisen in which India, one of the supply pickup locations, has denied entry to SDF aircraft,” LDP policy chief Sanae Takaichi said on Thursday.

SDF planes require consent from a country to enter its territory. The Foreign Ministry received permission in working-level talks with New Delhi, but consent was abruptly withdrawn Wednesday night, according to Tokyo.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said New Delhi has “conveyed our approval for picking up such supplies from India using commercial aircraft.” He added that a request for overflight clearance for SDF aircraft carrying humanitarian aid was “processed [and approved] as per established norms.”

Japan is considering a new route that skips India and goes through only the UAE.

Some in Tokyo suggest this situation raises diplomatic and security concerns.

“India may have decided it doesn’t want to be involved in an effort to support Ukraine, out of consideration for Russia,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

New Delhi has stayed out of the Western-led sanctions campaign against Moscow. The two countries have close ties historically, and India is a major buyer of Russian weapons.