Dialogue and diplomacy is way forward, PM Modi tells Putin and Zelenskyy | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Dialogue and diplomacy is way forward, PM Modi tells Putin and Zelenskyy

Mar 20, 2024 08:58 PM IST

This was only the second time that PM Modi spoke to the leaders of the warring nations on the same day since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022

NEW DELHI: Dialogue and diplomacy is the way forward in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and India backs all steps for the early and peaceful resolution of issues between the two sides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in separate phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday.

While speaking to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, PM Modi reiterated India’s “people-centric approach” and again described dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward (File Photo/Agencies)
While speaking to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, PM Modi reiterated India’s “people-centric approach” and again described dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward (File Photo/Agencies)

This was only the second time that Modi spoke to the leaders of the warring nations on the same day since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Modi had told Putin during a meeting in 2022 that “today’s era is not an era of war” and India has consistently pushed for diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

In his phone call with Putin, Modi congratulated the Russian president on his re-election and, while discussing the Ukraine conflict, reiterated India’s “consistent position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward”, according to an official readout.

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While speaking to Zelenskyy, Modi reiterated India’s “people-centric approach” and again described dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Modi also told Zelenskyy that India “supports all efforts for an early and peaceful resolution of all issues between the parties”. India, Modi added, will “continue to do everything within its means to support a peaceful solution”.

The remarks assume significance as Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba is expected to make his first visit to India since the start of the Russian invasion at the end of March to lobby for support for a peace summit to be hosted by Switzerland in the coming months.

Zelenskyy said in a post on X that he spoke with Modi to “express gratitude for India’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, humanitarian aid, and active participation in Peace Formula meetings”. He was referring to a 10-point formula which he unveiled in late 2022 that will be the basis of the upcoming peace summit.

“It will be important for us to see India attend the inaugural Peace Summit, which is currently being prepared in Switzerland,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy further said the two leaders discussed the development of bilateral relations, “which should include a meeting of our teams and a session of the intergovernmental commission on cooperation in New Delhi in the nearest future”.

Kuleba is expected to co-chair a meeting of the India-Ukraine inter-governmental commission during his upcoming visit to New Delhi, people familiar with the matter told HT earlier.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine is interested in strengthening trade and economic ties with India, particularly in agricultural exports, aviation cooperation, and pharmaceutical and industrial product trade.

Ukraine also wishes to welcome Indian students back to Ukrainian educational institutions, Zelenskyy said.

Some 20,000 Indian students, most of them enrolled in medical and engineering courses, were in Ukraine at the start of the conflict. Barring a few hundred students who either opted to remain in Ukraine, most returned to India.

In his conversation with Putin, Modi also conveyed his best wishes for the “peace, progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Russia”.

Modi and Putin “agreed to make concerted efforts towards further strengthening the Special & Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries in the years to come”. The two leaders also reviewed progress in various issues of bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on regional and global issues, the readout said.

A statement from the Russian embassy said Putin and Modi expressed satisfaction at the “consistent and dynamic” development of ties in trade, the economy, investment, energy and transport, reflecting the spirit of the bilateral strategic partnership.

They committed to coordinating the actions of India and Russia at multilateral bodies such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) grouping.

Putin also conveyed his wishes to Modi for success in India’s upcoming parliamentary election.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, India has refrained from publicly criticising Moscow’s actions. However, during a meeting with Putin in September 2022, Modi said “today’s era is not an era of war”. This message was subsequently reflected in the leaders’ declarations at the G20 Summits in 2022 and 2023.

Modi had earlier congratulated Putin on his electoral victory in a post on X on Monday.

Putin won the election by an overwhelming majority, though the result was a foregone conclusion. He garnered 87.3% of the vote following a record turnout of 77.5%. Putin’s nearest rival, Nikolay Kharitonov of the Communist Party, won only 4.3% of the votes counted.

The electoral victory will tighten Putin’s grip on power in Russia, which he has ruled since the turn of the century. He is now expected to remain in office until at least 2030, making him Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Russia continues to be one of the main suppliers of defence hardware to India, which has moved to diversify the sources of such equipment by concluding big-ticket deals with the US, France and Israel in recent years. Russia also emerged as one of the leading suppliers of energy after India snapped up discounted Russian crude when Western states slapped sanctions on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.

Modi has spoken on the phone and interacted more frequently with Putin since the start of the Ukraine conflict.

Modi last met Zelenskyy on the margins of a G7 Summit in Japan in May 2023. At that time, Zelenskyy had invited Modi to visit Ukraine. Modi had told Zelenskyy that India would continue to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including pharmaceutical products, and that he would himself do everything to “find a resolution to the situation to this conflict through diplomacy and dialogue”.

Modi also agreed during the separate conversations to remain in touch with Putin and Zelenskyy.

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