No one will be winner in the war between Russia and Ukraine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Berlin on Monday, even as his German counterpart Chancellor Olaf Scholz, standing by his side, called upon President Vladimir Putin to end “senseless killings” and withdraw his troops from the East European nation.
Modi stuck to New Delhi's stand on the conflict and refrained from joining Scholz in denouncing Russia for its military aggression against Ukraine. The joint statement issued after the meeting between the two leaders reflected the divergence on the issue of Russia-Ukraine conflict. Germany insisted on putting on record in the joint statement its “strong condemnation” of Russia's “unlawful and unprovoked” aggression against Ukraine. India, however, avoided criticising Russia and only joined Germany in expressing “serious concern” over humanitarian crisis, condemning civilian deaths in Ukraine and calling for “an immediate cessation of hostilities”.
New Delhi, however, did send out a subtle message to Moscow, with the Prime Minister pointing out that the fuel prices were sky-rocketing due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which had also resulted in a crisis of food and fertilisers.
“We believe no one will be a winner in this war. It will rather hurt everyone,” Modi said as he and Scholz addressed mediapersons after the two leaders co-chaired the sixth round of the biennial “Inter-Governmental Consultations” between India and Germany. “It will add to financial burden of every household around the world. The developing and the poor countries will be the worst hit though.”
Modi arrived in Berlin early on Monday for a three-day tour to Germany, Denmark and France even as India’s refusal to condemn Russia for its military operations against Ukraine drew flak from the western countries.
The German Chancellor said that Russia had jeopardised the fundamental principles of international law and the United Nations Charter with its attack on Ukraine.
Scholz said that he and Modi had shared the view that the “inviolability of borders” and “sovereignty of nations” should always be upheld.
Modi will fly from Berlin to Copenhagen on Tuesday, both for a bilateral meeting with Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, as well as to take part in the second India-Nordic Summit. Apart from Modi and Frederiksen, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir of Iceland, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland will take part in the conclave.
The Prime Minister will have a stopover in Paris while returning from Copenhagen to New Delhi – for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
With the PM likely to meet the leaders of as many as seven nations in Europe between Monday and Wednesday, New Delhi is keen to signal its willingness to step up its engagement across the continent – keeping the differences over Russia-Ukraine conflict aside.
Even as New Delhi did not join the western nations in condemning Russia for its aggression against Ukraine, Modi recently hosted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission's President Ursula Von der Leyen, apart from several foreign ministers from across Europe.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also visited Washington DC for India-US 2+2 dialogue with their US counterparts - Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin. The back-to-back engagements provided New Delhi opportunities to explain its position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict to the western nations.
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