PM calls for Ukraine ceasefire, says don’t curb energy supply

Published on Nov 15, 2022 11:09 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reiterated his call for a return to the “path of ceasefire and diplomacy” in Ukraine, and opposed any restrictions on the supply of energy against the backdrop of the G7’s plan to impose a price cap on Russian oil.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the G20 leaders summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 (REUTERS)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the G20 leaders summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 (REUTERS)
By, New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reiterated his call for a return to the “path of ceasefire and diplomacy” in Ukraine, and opposed any restrictions on the supply of energy against the backdrop of the G7’s plan to impose a price cap on Russian oil.

Modi also met a number of world leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali — apart from holding discussions with US President Joe Biden, he was seen talking to newly appointed UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron in the morning, and exchanging pleasantries with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the formal dinner in the evening.

Addressing the first working session of the summit that focused on food and energy security, Modi said that India’s access to energy is crucial for worldwide growth as it is the world’s fastest-growing economy. He also warned that the global shortage of fertilisers represents a “huge crisis” for food security.

Modi said the onus of creating a new world order to meet the challenges of the post-Covid-19 era has fallen on the grouping of the world’s 20 largest economies as multilateral institutions such as the UN have been unsuccessful.

The G20 leaders gathered for the two-day summit in the Indonesian resort town of Bali amid deep divisions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Western leaders such as Biden and Sunak said they will use the summit to denounce Russia’s actions and to strengthen global support against the war.

“I have repeatedly said that we have to find a way to return to the path of ceasefire and diplomacy in Ukraine,” Modi said in his address, speaking in Hindi.

He emphasised that a solution to the Ukraine crisis will be a focus of India’s G20 presidency, which begins in December. “The need of the hour is to show concrete and collective resolve to ensure peace, harmony and security in the world. I am confident that next year when the G20 meets in the holy land of Buddha and Gandhi, we will all agree to convey a strong message of peace to the world,” he said.

India’s energy security is “important for global growth” as it is the world’s fastest growing economy, he noted. “We must not promote any restrictions on the supply of energy and stability in the energy market should be ensured,” Modi said.

The remarks are significant in view of the G7’s plan to impose a price cap on Russian oil from December 5 and a move by the UK to cut off access to its insurance market for vessels transporting Russian crude. The EU plans to impose a ban on seaborne exports of Russian crude from December 5.

India has so far refrained from publicly criticising Russia’s invasion and consistently called for an end to hostilities and a return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue. Modi, who has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky several times, has suggested direct talks between the two leaders. During a meeting with Putin in Uzbekistan in September, Modi nudged him to end the conflict by saying this was “not an era of war”.

New Delhi has also taken up Moscow’s offer of discounted crude and Russia is among the top energy suppliers for India.

Modi said India ensured food security for its 1.3 billion citizens during the pandemic and also supplied food grains to many countries in need. However, the current shortage of fertilisers is a “huge crisis” for food security.

“Today’s fertiliser shortage is tomorrow’s food crisis, for which the world will not have a solution. We should build mutual agreement to maintain a stable and assured supply chain for both manure and food grains,” he said.

Noting that world leaders had made a serious effort to take the path of peace after World War II, Modi said: “Now it’s our turn. The onus of creating a new world order for the post-Covid period lies on our shoulders. The need of the hour is to show concrete and collective resolve to ensure peace, harmony and security in the world.”

The G20 should “not hesitate to acknowledge that multilateral institutions such as the UN have been unsuccessful” in dealing with global problems associated with climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and developments in Ukraine, he said.

“And we have all failed to make suitable reforms in them [multilateral institutions]. Therefore, today the world has greater expectations from the G20, the relevance of our group has become more significant,” he added.

India, Modi said, is also committed to clean energy and environment. By 2030, half of the country’s electricity will be generated from renewable sources, and timebound and affordable finance and sustainable supply of technology to developing countries is “essential for inclusive energy transition”, he added.

Modi said India is promoting natural farming, and re-popularising traditional foodgrain such as millets for sustainable food security. “Millets can also solve global malnutrition and hunger. We all must celebrate the International Year of Millets with great enthusiasm next year,” he said.

He congratulated President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, the current G20 president, for providing effective leadership to the grouping in a challenging global environment, with the pandemic and the Ukraine crisis causing havoc around the world.

“Global supply chains are in ruins. There is a crisis of essentials, essential goods all over the world. The challenge for the poor citizens of every country is more severe. Everyday life was already a struggle for them. They do not have the financial capacity to deal with the double whammy,” he said.

“During India’s G20 presidency, we will work for global consensus on all these issues,” Modi said. He later participated in another working session on global health.

At the conclusion of the summit, Indonesia will hand over the G20 presidency to India, which will host the next summit in New Delhi in September 2023.

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