Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to have directly rebuffed Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that now is not the time for war.
In what was the latest in a series of setbacks for the Russian leader, Modi spoke to him about the need to “commit to the path of peace” and reminded him of the importance of “democracy, diplomacy and dialogue”.
Modi’s comments came during a face-to-face meeting Friday, on the sidelines of a regional summit, and underscored Russia’s growing isolation in the diplomatic arena. They came just a day after Putin acknowledged that China too had “questions and concerns” about the invasion.
“I know that today’s era is not one of war and we have spoken to you many times on the phone about the fact that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue are all those things that affect the world” , Modi told Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
“We will certainly have the opportunity to discuss how we can move forward on the road to peace in the coming days, I will also have the opportunity to understand your point of view,” he added, according to a reading of the meeting by the Indian Ministry. of External Affairs.
Putin responded by telling the Indian leader that he was aware of his concerns.
“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine and I know your concerns. We want this all to end as soon as possible,” he said.
Modi’s apparent criticism of the Russian invasion is just the latest setback for Putin, whose forces have suffered a string of major battlefield defeats in recent weeks. Ukraine claims to have taken back some 8,000 square kilometers of territory.
Diplomatically, Moscow also seems on a losing streak and this was evidenced by exchanges at the Samarkand summit, which brings together leaders from Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and four countries from Central Asia.
It looked like Moscow and Beijing would be keen to present a united front at the summit to counterbalance the United States and its allies.
However, signs of divisions have emerged over the Russian invasion, which has unsettled leaders of former Soviet territories in Central Asia who fear Russia may also encroach on their territory.
India and China are the biggest customers of Russian oil, and suggestions in recent days that both have reservations about the war give Moscow plenty to think about.
Earlier in the summit, after acknowledging China’s concerns, Putin said, “We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukraine crisis.
Xi and Putin met for the first time since the war. Hear what they discussed
New Delhi, like Beijing, has had close ties with Moscow since the Cold War and has so far largely avoided outright condemnation of the invasion by Russia, which remains India’s biggest arms supplier.
In a statement released after Friday’s meeting, India’s External Affairs Ministry said discussions between the two leaders “also covered global food security, energy security and fertilizer availability in the context of challenges emanating from the current geopolitical situation.
“They agreed to keep in touch,” the ministry added.
The meeting comes as heavy shelling continues in areas of southern and eastern Ukraine that have been retaken from Russian forces. Ukrainian officials said they discovered at least 440 graves at a mass burial site in the town of Izium in the recently liberated Kharkiv region.