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India stands for dialogue, territorial integrity and sovereignty: Government

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace during an informal meeting at Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, on July 8, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AP

As the optics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow and his embrace on July 8 of Russian President Putin raised eyebrows in Washington and Kyiv, India rejected concerns about its ties with Russia. 

“India has always called for respecting the U.N. charter, including territorial integrity and sovereignty,” the official sources said. Mr. Modi is believed to have stressed with President Putin that there is “no solution on the battlefield” to the conflict and that “dialogue and diplomacy” are the only way forward, government officials have said.. 

Also read: Modi in Russia LIVE updates

In particular, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reacted to the timing of the meeting, on a day Ukraine claimed Russia fired more than 40 missiles at various locations including a children’s hospital, killing 37. The Modi-Putin meeting and the India-Russia Annual summit at the Kremlin is being held even as NATO leaders and other western allies gather in Washington along with Mr. Zelenksyy July 9-11.

In a post on social media platforms that showed photographs of the aftermath of the missile strikes, including on Ukraine’s “largest children’s hospital” and young cancer patients, Mr. Zelenskyy said that the meeting was disappointing. 

“It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy [India] hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day,” Mr. Zelenskyy said, in a reference to Mr. Putin. 

Mr. Zelenskyy had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi a month ago on the side-lines of the G-7 Outreach in Italy, seeking support for the peace process. At the summit in Switzerland that followed, however, India sent an official delegation, but disavowed the outcome statement, holding that both the main parties to the war, Russia and Ukraine should be at the table for a successful resolution of the war.

Mr. Modi’s visit to Moscow in the face of the open opposition from Western partners, which is his first since the Ukraine war began in 2022, and could indicate a decided shift by New Delhi to work more closely and publicly with Russia, with no visible end to the conflict in sight. Videos released of the private event on July 8 hosted by President Putin for Mr. Modi, the two leaders were seen riding together in a golfcart, touring the estate in the Moscow suburb of Novo-Ogaryovo, feeding horses and spending the evening together.

Addressing the Indian community on July 9 morning, Mr. Modi praised President Putin for “his leadership of Russia over two decades and for his efforts to strengthen the India-Russia partnership”.

In Washington, where President Joseph Biden is hosting NATO leaders and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a special summit on Tuesday, the State Department spokesperson said that the US has consistently raised its “concerns” about India’s relationship with Russia. To a number of questions about Mr. Modi’s ongoing visit, spokesperson Mathew Miller said that the US “urges” India to make it clear that the resolution to the Ukraine conflict must respect the UN Charter, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“India is a strategic partner with whom we engage in a full and frank dialogue, and that includes on our concerns about the relationship with Russia,” Mr. Miller said, adding that the US has for “long made clear those concerns.”

In an interview to The Hindu last week, U.S. Ambassador Eric Garcetti said that the U.S. has had “continuous communication” with Indian counterparts about what they can do together to “hold Russia to account and impose consequences for its war of conquest”, adding in another interaction that Indian companies attempting to subvert or violate western sanctions would face the “consequences”.

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