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  India   Politics  10 Jul 2024  Solution can’t be found in war, Modi tells Putin

Solution can’t be found in war, Modi tells Putin

Published : Jul 10, 2024, 2:27 am IST
Updated : Jul 10, 2024, 2:27 am IST

Modi conferred with Russia’s higest civilian award

Russian President Vladimir Putin decorates Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called during a ceremony following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 9, 2024. (AFP)
 Russian President Vladimir Putin decorates Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called during a ceremony following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 9, 2024. (AFP)

New Delhi: In an appeal to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin in talks both on Monday and Tuesday that a “solution cannot be found on the battlefield” and that “dialogue and diplomacy” was the way forward for peace, with Mr Modi adding that several “interesting ideas and new thoughts” had come up during the discussions that had filled him with “hope”.

In an obvious reference to the deaths at the children’s hospital at Okhmatdyt in Ukraine, reportedly due to a Russian missile strike, Mr Modi said in his remarks at the talks that “when children are killed, our hearts are pierced”, adding both leaders had “spoken on this”.

Addressing President Putin, Mr Modi said: “We both expressed our opinions (on the Ukraine conflict) and with great respect, we listened to each other.” At a media briefing later, India’s foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said Mr Modi had “strongly raised” with President Putin the issue of Indians trapped in the Russian Army who are being forced to fight on the battlefront, and that the Russian side had “promised an early discharge” of such Indians from the Russian Army so they can return home. In a clear message to Pakistan, the latest Kathua terror attacks were also condemned by both sides in a joint statement. The Russian President also later personally conferred Mr Modi with the highest Russian national award and civilian honour, the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, at an impressive ceremony at which the Prime Minister thanked him for honouring 1.4 billion Indians. This honour for Mr Modi was first announced in 2019 for fostering and strengthening the bilateral Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.

On Tuesday, the two nations decided to ramp up ties after “highly successful” talks at the bilateral 22nd Annual Summit co-chaired by the two leaders, during which India’s needs for fuel and fertiliser security and continued Russian support in this regard were discussed. In the agenda that was “principally economic”, the need to “broad-base the trade basket”, increase market access for Indian goods in Russia and reduce trade imbalance was discussed. The two nations’ bilateral trade has touched $65 billion, primarily due to the import of large quantities of Russian oil by India. It was decided to set a target of $100 billion in trade between the two nations by 2030. In his remarks on bilateral ties, Mr Modi profusely thanked President Putin for Russia’s support to India on the food and fertiliser security front and hailed the strength of the India-Russia partnership in an uncertain world marked by the Covid-19 pandemic and armed conflicts. He said Russian support had enabled India to protect its citizens from fuel price shocks and also ensured that Indian farmers get ample supplies of fertilisers for their crop output. Mr Modi also said the India-Russia pact on fuel supplies had played a role in stabilising the global fuel market. He also thanked the Russian President for supporting India’s “Make in India” initiatives that would generate jobs for India’s youth.

Talks on defence and security were also discussed, including the problem of difficulty in acquisition of Russian spare parts for the Indian armed forces, and it was decided that the supply of Russian spare parts would be expedited, the foreign secretary said. He added that the two sides had also discussed setting up joint ventures for manufacturing of at least the critical spare parts. The issue of nuclear supplies for India in the civil nuclear energy sector for the Kudankulam nuclear power plantswas also discussed.

Late on Monday evening, the two leaders had also held informal talks at a private dinner hosted by Mr Putin at his dacha in Novo-Ogaryovo near Moscow that lasted four to five hours. Before the private dinner, the two leaders rode a golf cart, with Mr Putin at the wheel, and also visited the horse stables, after which they had tea in a terrace. This reflected the warmth and hospitality displayed by President Putin.

On the trade front, the joint statement issued late Tuesday evening said: “For eliminating the non-tariff/tariff barriers in trade, including protective measures and administrative barriers, the leaders appreciated the initial meeting in March to commence full negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement on goods between India and the Eurasian Economic Union… The sides agreed to continue cooperation on the sustainable supply of fertilisers to India on the basis of company-to-company long-term contracts within the framework of Joint India-Russia Committee on Fertilisers.” The foreign secretary said the two countries had, apart from two joint statements (one was on economic cooperation in strategic areas), signed nine pacts in fields ranging from Indian investment in the Russian far east, environment, polar research to cartography, arbitration and trade promotion.

When asked at a media briefing later whether the deaths at the children’s hospital in Ukraine had specifically come up for discussion, Mr Kwatra said the “deaths of innocents” (in this case) had indeed been discussed and that Mr Modi had “expressed his concern and regret (to President Putin) at the loss of lives, particularly of children”. In his remarks on the conflict, Mr Modi appreciated the fact that President Putin had been extremely candid about the Russia-Ukraine conflict during the talks and said that India was ready for any cooperation that can help resolve the conflict. He added that peace initiatives are not possible as long as “guns and bombs go off”.

In his remarks, Mr Modi told the Russian President that India had been suffering from the scourge of terrorism for the past four to five decades, even as he conveyed his condolences to Russia over the recent terror attacks in Moscow and Dagestan.

On connectivity, the joint statement went: “The sides expressed readiness to actively work to expand logistics links with an emphasis on increasing the capacity of infrastructure, including for implementation of the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor and the International North-South Transport Corridor, as well as using the potential of the Northern Sea Route.”

On Indian investment in the Russian far east region, the joint statement said: “The sides their readiness to intensify trade and investment cooperation in the Far East and the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. In this regard, the sides welcomed the signing of the programme of India-Russia cooperation in trade, economic and investment spheres in the Russian Far East for the period from 2024-2029, as well as of cooperation principles in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation.”

On defence cooperation, it said: “Both sides agreed to encourage joint manufacturing in India of spare parts, components, aggregates and other products for maintenance of Russian-origin arms and defence equipment under the Make-in-India programme through the transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures for meeting the needs of the Indian armed forces as well as subsequent exports to third countries.”


Tags: russia-ukraine war, vladimir putin, prime minister narendra modi
Location: India, Delhi