• Saturday, April 20, 2024


Modi holds talks with Putin, Zelenskiy

He asserted that dialogue and diplomacy were the way forward for the resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict

FILE PHOTO: Narendra Modi meets Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan. (ANI Photo)

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIAN prime minister Narendra Modi held separate phone calls on Wednesday (20) with Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy and discussed strengthening ties with both, ahead of a visit by the Ukrainian foreign minister to New Delhi.

India has traditionally had close economic and defence ties with Moscow and has refrained from criticising Russia over its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, instead increasing purchases of Russian oil to record levels.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba will visit India next week as Kyiv looks to build support for its peace plan, two Indian officials aware of the matter said. It will be the first visit by a top Ukrainian official since Russia’s invasion.

Modi phoned Putin to congratulate him on his victory in Russia’s weekend presidential election, and the two leaders also discussed Ukraine, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The Indian government in its own statement said that Modi had reiterated India’s “consistent position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward” in the Ukraine crisis, and that the leaders agreed to deepen bilateral ties.

Modi later said in a post on social media platform X that he also spoke to Zelenskiy on strengthening ties between India and Ukraine and conveyed “India’s consistent support for all efforts for peace and bringing an early end to the ongoing conflict.”

“Ukraine is interested in strengthening our trade and economic ties with India, particularly in agricultural exports, aviation cooperation, and pharmaceutical and industrial product trade,” Zelenskiy said on X, following the call.

Kuleba’s visit comes at the invitation of his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, after a phone call between Modi and Zelenskiy at the start of the year, one of the officials said.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kyiv’s peace plan calls for the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine, restoring the country’s 1991 post-Soviet borders and a process to make Russia accountable for its actions.

Zelenskiy stressed the importance of India’s participation in the first peace formula summit planned for later this year in Switzerland.

Apart from talks with Indian officials, Kuleba is also set to “review the India-Ukraine inter-governmental commission,” one of the officials said, referring to a panel charged with keeping up the two nations’ economic, cultural and technological ties.

India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Zelenskiy said the commission session was to happen “in the nearest future.”

One of the officials said a formal announcement of the visit was expected next week. Indian media first reported it on Tuesday (19).

Ukraine has also pitched for New Delhi to help rebuild its war-ravaged economy, inviting investment from Indian companies at a January business summit in India.

Modi has spoken several times to the leaders of both Ukraine and Russia, having met Zelenskiy last May on the sidelines of a G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

India has insisted on the need for both sides to talk, with Modi telling Putin during a meeting in September 2022 that this is not an era of war.


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