Can’t find solutions on battlefield, PM Modi tells Vladimir Putin | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Can’t find solutions on battlefield, PM Modi tells Vladimir Putin

By, New Delhi
Jul 10, 2024 05:03 AM IST

PM Modi raised Russia’s strike on a children’s hospital in Ukraine with Putin, urging for dialogue and diplomacy as no solution can be found on the battlefield.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday raised Russia’s missile strike on a children’s hospital in Ukraine with President Vladimir Putin and again nudged him to return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy, saying no solution can be found on the battlefield.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on Tuesday. (AFP)
Russian president Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on Tuesday. (AFP)

Modi, on his first visit to Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, discussed the conflict at both a private meeting with Putin at his country home on Monday and at the annual summit in the Kremlin on Tuesday. He pointedly referred to the strike on the children’s hospital in his opening remarks at the summit, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticised the meeting between the Indian and Russian leaders.

“Whether it is war, conflicts, terror attacks, every person who believes in humanity is deeply affected when there is loss of life. But even in that, when innocent children are killed, when we see innocent children dying, then the heart is pierced and that pain is very horrible,” Modi said, speaking in Hindi.

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“As a friend, I have always said that peace is most necessary for the bright future of next generation. But I also know that no solution is possible on the battlefield. Between bombs, guns and bullets, solutions and peace talks are not successful, and we have to find the path to peace through the medium of dialogue,” he said.

Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital, Ukraine’s largest paediatric facility, sustained major damage when it was hit in a wave of Russian missile strikes on cities across the country. Thirty-nine people, including two at the hospital, were killed and 140 others were injured in the strikes.

Modi noted he extensively discussed this matter with Putin during their meeting at the Russian leader’s dacha on Monday evening, which lasted ‘four to five hours”, and reiterated India’s call for a return to dialogue and diplomacy to end the war.

Also Read | ‘Heart is pierced’: Modi flags missile strike on Kyiv's children's hospital at meeting with President Putin

“I am happy we both were able to discuss our views on the issue of Ukraine with an open mind and at length, and we attempted to listen and understand each other’s views with a lot of respect,” Modi said. He added he also presented the Global South’s expectations for global peace to Putin.

Modi said he was satisfied that Putin talked very openly at their meeting on Monday, with no covering up, and that “many interesting ideas” and a “new thinking” had emerged from these talks. He gave no details of these ideas.

India, he said, stands ready to provide all possible help for restoring peace. “I assure you and the world community that India is in favour of peace...and I have a new hope in my mind after hearing the views of my friend President Putin yesterday,” he added.

Putin, whose opening remarks were briefer, said he was grateful to Modi for the “attention you pay to the most pressing issues, including your efforts to find ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis, primarily through peaceful means”.

Modi’s remarks that no solution can be found on the battlefield build on his earlier comments – that “today’s era is not of war” – made at his last face-to-face meeting with Putin on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Samarkand in September 2022.

India’s position also reflects the diplomatic tightrope walk it has engaged in over the conflict, especially in view of the expectations of Western partners such as the US and France, who believe New Delhi should press Moscow to end hostilities. These Western partners have also pushed India to convince members of the Global South, which are on the fence, to back efforts to end the conflict.

Modi’s meeting with Putin coincided with the start of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) Summit in Washington that is being attended by Zelenskyy. Indian officials have played down the timing of Modi’s visit to Moscow, saying the engagement should be seen in a bilateral context.

Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra confirmed at a media briefing that the Ukraine conflict figured at Monday’s private meeting and Tuesday’s summit. “In terms of the death of the innocents yesterday [Monday], Prime Minister was very clear and categorical in expressing his concern and regret at the loss of these innocent lives, including in particular the children yesterday,” he said.

Also Read | Ukraine's Zelenskyy on PM Modi-Putin meet in Moscow: ‘Huge disappointment’

Kwatra said Modi made it clear India is willing to “offer all possible support, contribution and cooperation required to address this particular challenge of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and find peaceful solutions”.

India has not publicly criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or voted in favour of numerous UN resolutions against Moscow’s actions, though it has repeatedly called for a return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy to find a solution to the conflict. India’s top leadership also stayed away from a peace summit on Ukraine hosted by Switzerland last month, and the country didn’t sign on for the joint communique issued after the meeting.

Russia has emerged as one of the main suppliers of energy to India after New Delhi snapped up discounted Russian commodities such as crude oil and fertilisers after the imposition of Western sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

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