Breaking News

Modi Arrives In Russia, First Visit Since Ukraine Conflict Began

Modi Arrives In Russia, First Visit Since Ukraine Conflict Began

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Russia on Monday for his initial visit since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, highlighting enduring ties despite Russia’s deepening alliance with China.

During his two-day stay, Modi plans to join a private dinner hosted by Vladimir Putin and engage in discussions with the Russian president, as confirmed by India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal.

The summit offers “an opportunity for the two leaders to assess a wide range of bilateral issues,” Jaiswal informed New Delhi reporters last week, noting they will also exchange views on regional and global developments of mutual concern.

Read more: Russian State Media Reports That Indian PM Narendra Modi Will Soon Visit Moscow

India relies heavily on Russian military hardware and has increased purchases of discounted Russian crude oil, providing significant financial support to Russia amid Western isolation.

Bilateral trade reached nearly $65 billion in 2023-24, primarily driven by robust energy cooperation, though most of the trade balance favored Russia, Jaiswal added.

Addressing the trade imbalance will be a “priority” during Modi’s talks with Putin, he emphasized.

Modi’s last meeting with Putin occurred on the sidelines of the 2022 SCO summit in Uzbekistan, where he appealed to Putin: “Now is not the time for war.”

While India has called for an end to hostilities in Ukraine and a return to peace, it has abstained from UN resolutions on Ukraine and refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion.

“I anticipate discussing all dimensions of bilateral cooperation with my friend President Vladimir Putin and exchanging perspectives on various regional and global issues,” Modi stated in a pre-departure statement.

In a symbolic gesture, Putin welcomed Modi to his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow, where they conversed over tea, explored the grounds, and enjoyed a horse show.

Modi’s visit, his first bilateral trip since securing a third consecutive term in a recent general election, diverges from his usual travel to neighboring countries like Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

This visit also occurs as Russia strengthens ties with China, potentially causing unease in New Delhi due to its longstanding border disputes with Beijing.

Modi’s journey follows Putin’s return from Kazakhstan, where the Russian leader attended the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, emphasizing the flourishing Moscow-Beijing relations as “the best period in their history.”

For India, this growing alliance raises significant concerns, noted Nandan Unnikrishnan, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. He highlighted that traditionally, Russia has balanced India’s relationship with China since the late 1950s.

Despite India’s SCO membership, Modi was notably absent from the Kazakhstan summit, signaling, according to some analysts, skepticism about the bloc’s effectiveness in advancing Indian interests.

Modi’s visit to Russia is also viewed as undermining Western efforts to isolate Putin. Despite defying Western sanctions through substantial purchases of Russian oil, India maintains a strong partnership with the United States, particularly in countering China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Modi’s state visit to Washington last June reinforced defense, trade, and technology ties with President Joe Biden. He also addressed Congress, a rare honor for non-allied countries, and attended a grand state dinner. India’s membership in the Quad security grouping with the US, Japan, and Australia underscores this partnership.

In contrast, Putin skipped the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi later that year, where leaders collectively criticized Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

Following his Russia visit, Modi plans to visit Austria, marking his first official trip to the European nation, as announced by his office.