Modi Urges Peace in Ukraine, Joining Xi in Questioning Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Indian concerns over his invasion of Ukraine as he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(Bloomberg) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to seek peace in Ukraine, following China in expressing concern about the almost seven-month-old conflict roiling the global economy.
Modi told Putin that “today’s era is not one for war,” during in their first face-to-face meeting on Friday since Russia invaded Ukraine and launched the bloodiest war in Europe in more than 70 years. The Indian leader, whose country has continued to buy oil and arms from Russia despite US pleas to cut off funding, indicated he had previously expressed similar concerns in phone calls.
“Today, we will get a chance to discuss how we can move forward on a path of peace in the coming days,” Modi told Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Putin acknowledged India’s concerns, echoing language he used a day earlier in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “I know your stance on the conflict in Ukraine and the concerns you constantly express,” he said, adding “we’ll do everything to end this as soon as possible.”
The Central Asian summit pointed to growing impatience with a war pushing Europe deeper into crisis and driving up global food prices. The meetings came days after some of Ukraine’s most significant battlefield victories yet, with the country’s military reclaiming as much as one-tenth of the territory Russian-led forces had seized.
In his remarks with Modi, Putin accused the Ukrainian leadership of not wanting to negotiate a peace deal. Kyiv has said it’s willing to talk only after Russia pulls its troops back to pre-invasion positions.
Putin, in remarks to Russian reporters in Samarkand, was later dismissive of Ukrainian gains and threatened escalation, calling his recent missile attacks “warning strikes.” “If the situation develops further in this direction, our response will be more serious,” Putin said.
Modi’s Outreach to Putin Risks Putting India in US Crosshairs
Putin said Russia’s military campaign was “proceeding at a slow pace, but consistently” and claimed Moscow was using “only part” of its army. “Bit by bit, the Russian army is taking control of more and more territory,” he said.
Ukraine wrested control of a large swathe of the northeast of the country in a lightning offensive that forced Russian troops to flee, abandoning their equipment. The sudden losses dealt a major blow to the Kremlin’s efforts to seize eastern Ukraine.
In response, Russia fired missiles that plunged areas of Ukraine into darkness and attacked elements of the water system in a city behind the front lines, causing severe damage and flooding.
While it’s too early to say whether India and China are breaking with Russia, the exchanges this week suggest growing anxiety about the prolonged conflict. China has provided Russia with key diplomatic support since the war began, accusing the US of provoking Putin into action by expanding NATO, although Beijing has urged peace talks and so far avoided providing any direct military aid to Putin.
On Thursday, Putin told Xi in their first in-person talks since the war began that he understood Beijing’s “questions and concerns” about the conflict. He hailed “the balanced position of our Chinese friends on the Ukraine crisis” and offered to “explain in detail our position.”
Xi’s public remarks and the Chinese readouts of his meetings with Putin largely avoided the war, focusing on the need to cooperate on countering US global influence. “China is willing to work with Russia, display the responsibilities of the major powers, and play a leading role to inject stability and positive energy to a world in chaos,” Xi said.
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