Modi Visits Russia: Key Talks with Putin Amid Ukraine Conflict

A still from Reuters video shows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arriving in Moscow on Monday

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Russia on Monday, marking his first visit since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. This trip underscores the continued strong ties between India and Russia, despite Russia’s increasing reliance on China.

Modi’s two-day visit includes a private dinner and bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to India’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Randhir Jaiswal, the summit will allow the leaders to review various bilateral issues and share perspectives on regional and global developments of mutual interest.

Strategic Talks Amid Global Tensions

India remains a significant buyer of Russian military equipment and has increased its purchases of discounted Russian crude oil. This economic relationship has provided Russia with a financial lifeline as it faces Western sanctions and isolation.

Trade between India and Russia reached nearly $65 billion in the 2023-24 period, primarily driven by energy cooperation. However, Jaiswal noted that reducing the trade imbalance, which heavily favors Russia, would be a priority during Modi’s discussions with Putin.

Modi last met Putin at the 2022 SCO meeting in Uzbekistan, where he emphasized that “now is not the time for war.” While India has called for peace in Ukraine, it has abstained from condemning Russia’s invasion at the United Nations.

Balancing International Relations

Upon arriving in Moscow, Putin welcomed Modi to his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, where they shared a hug, chatted over tea, and enjoyed a horse show. This visit, Modi’s first since winning a third term, deviates from the norm of Indian leaders visiting neighboring countries first.

The trip occurs as Russia’s relationship with China strengthens, potentially troubling India due to its border disputes with China. This burgeoning Moscow-Beijing alliance is a “matter of deep concern,” according to Nandan Unnikrishnan of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

India’s reliance on Russia as a counterbalance to China is a significant factor in Modi’s visit. Traditionally, Russia has played a balancing role in India’s complex relationship with China, dating back to the late 1950s.

Global Implications and Future Visits

Despite India’s participation in the SCO, Modi did not attend the recent leaders’ meeting in Kazakhstan, signaling skepticism about the bloc’s effectiveness for India’s interests. This visit to Russia is seen as a setback for Western efforts to isolate Putin.

India’s purchase of large quantities of Russian oil has undermined Western sanctions, yet New Delhi maintains strong ties with the United States. Modi’s state visit to Washington last year further solidified the defense, trade, and technology partnership between India and the US, particularly in response to China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

After his Russia trip, Modi will visit Austria, marking his first visit to the European nation. This trip is part of Modi’s broader strategy to engage with multiple global powers amid a complex geopolitical landscape.

 #ModiInRussia #IndiaRussiaRelations #GlobalDiplomacy #UkraineConflict #Geopolitics

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