Modi Urges Peace in Ukraine During Moscow Visit, Criticized by Zelenskyy for Meeting Putin

Feature and Cover Modi Urges Peace in Ukraine During Moscow Visit Criticized by Zelenskyy for Meeting Putin

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Moscow on Tuesday, July 9, and urged President Vladimir Putin to seek peace in the ongoing Ukraine conflict, stating that “war cannot solve problems.” This marked Modi’s first visit since Russia began its offensive in Ukraine in February 2022. During their discussions, Modi expressed his views on various issues, including the conflict in Ukraine, highlighting the need for dialogue to achieve peace. “When innocent children are murdered, one sees them die, the heart pains and that pain is unbearable,” Modi said in Hindi to Putin. He emphasized, “I know that war cannot solve problems, solutions and peace talks can’t succeed among bombs, guns, and bullets. And we need to find a way to peace through dialogue.”

Putin appreciated Modi’s focus on pressing global issues, acknowledging his efforts to seek peaceful solutions to the Ukrainian crisis. “You are trying to find some ways to solve the Ukrainian crisis, too, of course primarily by peaceful means,” Putin stated.

Modi’s visit came just hours after Russia launched a massive assault across Ukraine, killing at least 38 people and heavily damaging a children’s hospital in Kyiv, actions that drew sharp condemnation from European and North American governments. Upon arriving in Moscow on Monday evening, Modi was seen embracing Putin at the Russian president’s country residence, where they spent several hours in discussion, according to the Kremlin.

This show of camaraderie sparked criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who took to social media to express his dismay. “It is 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,” Zelenskyy wrote.

At the Kremlin, Putin lauded the enduring friendship between India and Russia, describing their relationship as a “specially privileged, strategic partnership.” Russia remains a key supplier of discounted oil and weapons to India, though Moscow’s increasing isolation from the West and closer ties with Beijing have affected its partnership with New Delhi. Meanwhile, Modi is fostering closer security ties with Western nations following his recent re-election as the leader of the world’s most populous country.

In recent years, Western powers have been strengthening their relations with India as a counterbalance to China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region. They have also pressured New Delhi to distance itself from Russia. The United States urged Modi on Monday to ensure that any resolution to the conflict in Ukraine respects the UN Charter and Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Modi last visited Russia in 2019 and welcomed Putin to New Delhi two years later, just weeks before Russia’s offensive against Ukraine commenced. India has refrained from explicitly condemning Russia, abstaining from United Nations resolutions aimed at the Kremlin.

The Ukraine conflict has had significant repercussions for India. In February, New Delhi urged Moscow to repatriate several Indian citizens who had joined Russian “support jobs,” following reports that some had been killed after being compelled to fight in Ukraine. Additionally, Russia’s growing relationship with China has raised concerns. The United States and the European Union accuse China of providing components and equipment that have bolstered Russia’s military capabilities, though Beijing denies these allegations. China and India remain intense rivals, competing for strategic dominance in South Asia.

India and Russia have maintained strong ties since the Cold War, with Russia becoming a key arms supplier to India. However, the Ukraine conflict has strained Russia’s weapons supplies, prompting India to seek alternative sources, including bolstering its own defense industry. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute noted that Russia’s share of Indian arms imports has significantly decreased in recent years.

At the same time, India has become a major buyer of Russian crude oil, providing Russia with a crucial export market after traditional buyers in Europe reduced their purchases. This shift has dramatically altered their economic relationship, with India saving billions of dollars while supporting Russia’s war finances. According to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, India’s month-on-month imports of Russian crude increased by 8 percent in May, reaching the highest levels since July 2023. However, this has also led to India’s trade deficit with Russia rising to over $57 billion in the past financial year.

Following his visit to Moscow, Modi will travel to Vienna, marking the first visit by an Indian leader to the Austrian capital since Indira Gandhi in 1983.

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