Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. The conversation that came days after PM Modi participated in the G-7 summit in Germany, included the Ukraine crisis and the latest developments in the global commodities market.
"The two leaders reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken during President Putin's visit to India in December 2021. In particular, they exchanged ideas on how bilateral trade in agricultural goods, fertilizer and pharma products could be encouraged further," informed an official press release. The two sides discussed the latest developments in the Ukraine crisis, with Prime Minister Modi reiterating "India's long-standing position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy."
President Putin had visited India on December 6, 2021 for the annual India-Russia summit.
Friday's discussion showed a continuum of diplomatic consultation that has intensified over the last few days which also witnessed heavy warfare between Ukraine and Russia. After attending the G-7 summit with Mr. Modi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited both Kyiv and Moscow to hold talks with the warring sides.
That apart, President Putin visited Tajikistan and Turkmenistan where he attended a summit of the Caspian Sea states that also included Azerbaijan, Iran, and Kazakhstan.
According to a Russian statement on the conversation, President Putin accused the Western powers of obstructing a peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.
Diplomatic sources indicated that India is closely following the course of the war in Ukraine, especially the latest Russian strikes in Odessa, Kyiv and other areas that reportedly led to substantial civilian casualties.
The Indian announcement of the telephone conversation said that the "leaders also discussed global issues, including the state of the international energy and food markets". Despite western objections, India has emerged as a major buyer of Russian crude oil in the last four months since Russia launched the military campaign against Ukraine.
The latest estimates suggest that Russian oil supplies to India in June reached an average of 1.2 million barrels per day. Russia has emerged as a major partner for India as New Delhi battles the "commodities shock", that is the fallout of the combination of war and the punitive western sanctions on Russia.
In order to prevent a fertilizer shortfall, India reached out to Russia earlier this year. According to Russian news outlet, Sputnik, India imported 3,50,000 tons of diammonium phosphate from Russia between April and July. India's fertilizer requirement is expected to grow as the monsoon rains will be accompanied by the kharif sowing season.
"Vladimir Putin drew attention to the systemic mistakes made by a number of states, which led to the disruption of the entire architecture of the free trade of food products and provoked a significant increase of their cost," the press release from the Russian side stated.
While areas of convergence have expanded between India and Russia, there are some areas where Moscow and Delhi are not entirely on the same page. For example, the BRICS summit saw Russia forcefully champion the need for an alternate global reserve currency that drew cautious support from India that is not fully in favour of moving away from the dollar. Another area of concern is Sino-Russian support for expanding BRICS and including Pakistan into the expanded grouping which is yet to get India's support.