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Roving Periscope: PM Modi asks Putin to end Ukraine war, say reports

Roving Periscope: PM Modi asks Putin to end Ukraine war, say reports

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, currently on a two-day official visit to Russia, made a direct appeal to end the ongoing Ukraine war, which has been going on for over two years, the media reported on Tuesday.

During an informal meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the latter’s official residence in Moscow, PM Modi told him that no solution can be found on the battleground.

“India has always called for respecting the UN Charter, including territorial integrity and sovereignty. There is no solution on the battlefield. Dialogue and diplomacy is the way forward,” PM Modi is believed to have told Putin during the dinner, according to reports.

Besides, PM Modi raised concerns about Indian nationals being allegedly deceived into joining the Russian army by unscrupulous travel agents. Russia has “committed” to repatriating all affected individuals.

Nearly two dozen Indians were allegedly forced into fighting the Russian war against Ukraine after being tricked by agents into going to the country on the pretext of getting high-paying jobs.

A viral video earlier this year showed a group of men from Punjab and Haryana, wearing Russian army uniforms, claiming they were tricked into fighting the war in Ukraine and doubling down on their request for help.

PM Modi’s first visit to Russia since it launched its campaign in Ukraine in February 2022, has drawn international attention. India has not explicitly condemned Russia and abstained on United Nations resolutions censuring Moscow.

On his part, while congratulating PM Modi on his third term, President Vladimir Putin remarked that his re-election underscores the PM’s effectiveness in advancing India’s interests: “The results speak for themselves; India now ranks third globally in terms of economy.”

Their bilateral meeting marked the 16th Summit between PM Modi and President Putin in the past decade, with their last face-to-face interaction occurring at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in 2022.

In 2019, PM Modi was honored with Russia’s highest state award, the “Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First.”

After Russia, PM Modi will embark on a historic trip to Austria, marking the first visit by an Indian PM to the European nation in the last 40 years.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has reacted sharply to PM Modi’s visit to Russia and his interaction with President Putin.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Zelenskyy referred to Russia’s fresh attack on Monday, in which at least 37 people, including three children, were killed after a missile strike on a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

The strike also damaged nearly 100 buildings, including schools and maternity hospitals. His tweet included photographs of the bombed hospital and babies in ambulances.

Zelenskky’s post came after PM Modi met President Putin in Moscow and shared an embrace. Visuals from their meeting showed the two leaders drinking tea on a terrace at Putin’s home in Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow, and PM Modi being driven around in a golf cart.

President Zelenskyy was particularly critical of the Modi-Putin hugging image, stating, “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…”

PM Modi’s visit treads a fine line between maintaining a longstanding relationship with Russia and courting closer ties with the West amid the war in Ukraine.

He has also spoken to Zelenskyy numerous times, including in Italy last month on the sidelines of the G7 Summit. The two were photographed sharing a hug. Their first face-to-face meeting, since the war started, was in May 2023 last year, at the G7 Summit hosted by Japan.

In a phone call with President Zelenskyy in October 2022, PM Modi said there can be “no military solution” and that India is ready to contribute to any peace efforts.

Ever since the war began India has maintained it can only be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.”


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