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Modi Arrives in Russia for Pivotal Talks with Putin Amid Ongoing Ukraine Conflict

Published On Tue, 09 Jul 2024
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Russia on Monday for his first visit since Moscows large-scale invasion of Ukraine, indicating the continued strong ties between the two nations despite Russias increasing reliance on China. During the two-day visit, Modi is scheduled to attend a private dinner with Vladimir Putin and hold discussions with the Russian president, according to India’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Randhir Jaiswal. The summit will allow the two leaders to review a wide range of bilateral issues and share perspectives on regional and global developments of mutual interest, Jaiswal stated last week in New Delhi.
India remains significantly dependent on Russia for military equipment and has increased its purchases of discounted Russian crude oil, providing a crucial financial lifeline for Putins nation as it faces Western isolation. Trade between the two countries reached nearly $65 billion in 2023-24, largely driven by strong energy cooperation, though most of the trade benefits flowed to Russia, according to Jaiswal. Addressing the trade imbalance will be a priority in Modi’s talks with Putin, he added.
Modi last met Putin on the sidelines of the 2022 SCO meeting in Uzbekistan, where he told the Russian leader: “Now is not the time for war.” Although India has called for an end to hostilities in Ukraine and the restoration of peace, it has abstained from all United Nations resolutions on Ukraine and has not condemned Russia’s invasion.
I look forward to discussing all aspects of bilateral cooperation with my friend President Vladimir Putin and sharing perspectives on various regional and global issues, Modi said in a statement from his office before departing for Russia. We aim to contribute to a peaceful and stable region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in response to Russias deadly attacks on Ukraine Monday, expressed disappointment, calling it a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day. After Modis arrival, Putin gave the Indian leader a tour of his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo in the Moscow region. They greeted each other warmly, chatted over tea, and rode in an electric vehicle. Putin also showed Modi the stables, and they watched a horse show together.
This trip marks Modis first bilateral visit since winning a third consecutive term in last months general election, breaking tradition as Indian leaders typically visit neighboring countries such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives first. The visit occurs as Russia strengthens ties with China, potentially causing discomfort for New Delhi due to its ongoing Himalayan border dispute with Beijing, which has intensified in recent years.
Modi’s trip follows Putin’s return from Kazakhstan, where he attended the annual leaders’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a bloc led by China and Russia, and claimed that Moscow-Beijing relations are at their best. For India, this growing relationship is a matter of deep concern, said Nandan Unnikrishnan, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.
One reason Mr. Modi is making this trip is that traditionally, the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia, has acted as a balancer in our relationship with China, which has been strained since the late 50s, he explained. Despite Indias membership in the SCO, Modi was notably absent from the meeting in Kazakhstan, signaling to some analysts that he does not view the bloc as an effective means for India to advance its interests.
Modi’s visit to Russia is also seen as a setback for Western efforts to isolate Putin. While India has undercut Western sanctions by buying large quantities of Russian oil, it has maintained close ties with the United States, a key partner due to shared concerns about China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. Modi met with US President Joe Biden during a state visit to Washington in June last year, strengthening their defense, trade, and technology partnership. During that trip, Modi addressed Congress, an honor typically reserved for close US allies, and attended a lavish state dinner. India is also a member of the Quad security grouping with the US, Japan, and Australia.
Later that year, Putin did not attend the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi, where leaders issued a consensus statement criticizing his invasion of Ukraine. Following his Russia trip, Modi will visit Austria in his first visit to the European nation, according to his office.
Disclaimer: This image is taken from Mint.
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