Stronger ties between our nations will greatly benefit our people, says PM Modi after landing in Moscow

Russian President Putin is set to host a private dinner for Modi tonight ahead of Tuesday's talks at the 22nd India-Russia summit in Moscow.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 14:13 IST

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New Delhi: India seeks to “play a supportive role for a peaceful and stable region”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said hours before landing in Moscow on Monday for his first visit to Russia after the former Soviet Union nation launched its “special military operations” in Ukraine in February 2022.

With the United States and the rest of the West keeping a close watch on the visit, Russia accorded a grand welcome to the head of the government of India. A few hours after the prime minister landed in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his guest from New Delhi for a private dinner at his dacha in the Novo-Ogaryovo suburb of the capital city. The two leaders will hold the 22nd India-Russia annual summit on Tuesday, after a hiatus of two years.

“I am very happy to see you, my great friend,” Putin welcomed Modi at his Dacha. “Thanks for inviting me to your home and for this opportunity to chat,” Modi replied to the Russian President.

The two sides are expected to announce some measures to boost bilateral economic cooperation, notwithstanding the looming threat of sanctions by the West.

Modi will convey to Putin India’s “strong concerns” over some of its citizens working with the Russian Army’s soldiers in the battlegrounds in Ukraine as members of the support staff.

He is also expected to subtly convey to the Russian President New Delhi’s unease over growing China-Russia ties in the aftermath of the US-led West’s campaign against the former Soviet Union nation over the war in Ukraine. With the India-China military stand-off along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh not yet completely resolved, New Delhi may subtly nudge Moscow to persuade Beijing to agree to mutually withdraw troops from the remaining face-off points.

Modi did not directly refer to the Russia-Ukraine conflict in his statement issued just before he left New Delhi for Moscow in the forenoon. But, according to sources, the message he would convey to the Russian President during his two-day visit would be centred around New Delhi’s long-held positions that no conflict could be resolved on the battleground and that dialogue and diplomacy were the only means to end the war in Ukraine.

“The Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia has advanced over the past ten years, including in the areas of energy, security, trade, investment, health, education, culture, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges,” the prime minister said in New Delhi earlier in the day. “I look forward to reviewing all aspects of bilateral cooperation with my friend President Vladimir Putin and sharing perspectives on various regional and global issues.”

“Stronger ties between our nations will greatly benefit our people,” he wrote on X after landing in Moscow.

Modi was received by Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, who also accompanied the prime minister to the hotel from the airport in the same car as a rare gesture to a visiting dignitary. The iconic Ostankino TV Tower in Moscow displayed the Russian and Indian flags as a mark of honour to the visiting prime minister.

The prime minister met the cheering members of the Indian and Indian-Russian community living in and around Moscow at the entrance of his hotel.

The prime minister and the Russian President will have a one-to-one meeting before co-chairing the annual summit on Tuesday. They will discuss ways to boost bilateral cooperation in energy, security, trade, investment, and people-to-people exchanges.

New Delhi drew flak from the US and the rest of the West for not joining the clamour against Russia after the former Soviet Union nation launched its “special military operations” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. New Delhi has been maintaining a strategic balance in its ties with Russia and the US-led West.

India’s decades-old strategic partnership with and its dependence on the Soviet Union and its successor Russia for military hardware appeared to have stopped New Delhi from speaking up against Moscow. India has been circumventing sanctions imposed by the US and the rest of the West on Russia and continued bilateral trade. It also increased oil and coal imports from Russia.

Published 08 July 2024, 14:13 IST

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