Russia understands India’s “concerns” over its war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Prime Minister Narendra Modi, promising to try and end the nine-month old conflict and blaming the Ukrainian government for prolonging it, in the first meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand.
Mr. Modi began his comments by telling Mr. Putin that the “era of war” is over, indicating India’s discomfort with Russia’s attack on Ukraine for the first time in public, although New Delhi has not criticised Russia for its action thus far.
“I know that today’s era is not of war and we have spoken to you many times on the phone that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue are such things that touch the world,” Mr. Modi said.
“We want all of this to end as soon as possible. We will keep you abreast of what is happening there,” Mr. Putin said in remarks that were televised.
“However, unfortunately, the opposing side, the leadership of Ukraine, announced its refusal to continue negotiations and declared that they wanted to achieve their goals by military means, as they say ‘on the battlefield’,” Mr. Putin told Mr. Modi during the conversation. Officials said the two leaders also spoke about the “derivative” issues of the conflict like the impact on food, fertilizer and energy security.
On Thursday, Mr. Putin had also told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he understood his “questions and concerns” about the Ukraine conflict.
Briefing presspersons, India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said New Delhi’s position was that “hostilities should cease and the path to resolution is through diplomacy and dialogue.”
The meeting with Mr. Putin was one of four bilateral meetings Mr. Modi held on the sidelines of the SCO summit, which included a meeting with host Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, as well as a previously unannounced meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, which India has had tense ties with since Turkey’s criticism over the Kashmir issue.
Meeting with Turkey
“The leaders reviewed bilateral relations and appreciated recent gains in bilateral trade. Also exchanged views on regional & global developments,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted after the meeting. “Met President @RTErdogan and reviewed the full range of bilateral relations between India and Turkey including ways to deepen economic linkages for the benefit of our people,” Mr. Modi said in a tweet.
In his meeting with Mr. Raisi, Mr. Modi discussed connectivity through Chabahar and energy cooperation, said Mr. Kwatra, but did not confirm whether India intended to restore oil imports that were cancelled in 2018-2019 due to the threat of U.S. sanctions.
Mr. Modi also discussed developing the Chabahar trade route to Central Asia in his meeting with Mr. Mirziyoyev. “They stressed the need to make concerted efforts to diversify the trade basket and enter into long-term arrangements to promote trade and investment. Connectivity was considered key to unlock the potential in this regard, including greater usage of the Chabahar port and the International North-South Transport Corridor,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs before Mr. Modi’s departure from Uzbekistan.