India PM Modi To Meet Putin In First Trip To Russia Since Ukraine War Began

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Narendra Modi will visit Russia on 8 and 9 July and hold talks with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin has said, in the Indian prime minister’s first trip to the country since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Modi and Putin will discuss “prospects for further development of traditionally friendly Russian-Indian relations, as well as relevant issues on the international and regional agenda,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The visit was first announced by Russian officials last month, but the dates had not been previously disclosed.

Russia has had strong ties with India since the cold war, and Delhi’s importance as a key trading partner for Moscow has grown since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. India and China have become key buyers of Russian oil following sanctions imposed by the US and its allies that shut most western markets for Russian exports.

Under Modi’s leadership, India has avoided condemning Russia’s action in Ukraine while emphasising the need for a peaceful settlement.

The partnership between Moscow and Delhi has become fraught, however, since Russia started developing closer ties with India’s main rival, China, because of the hostilities in Ukraine.

Modi on Thursday skipped the summit of a security grouping created by Moscow and Beijing to counter western alliances.

Modi sent his foreign minister to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at its annual meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana. The meeting is being attended by Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Indian media reports speculated that the recently re-elected Modi was busy with the parliamentary session last week.

Modi last visited Russia in 2019 for an economic forum in the far eastern port of Vladivostok. He last travelled to Moscow in 2015. Putin last met with Modi in September 2022 at a summit of the SCO in Uzbekistan. In 2021, Putin also travelled to Delhi and held talks with the Indian leader.

Tensions between Beijing and Delhi have continued since a confrontation in June 2020 along the disputed China-India border in which rival troops fought with rocks, clubs and fists. At least 20 Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers were killed.

In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union was the source of about 70% of Indian army weapons, 80% of its air force systems and 85% of its navy platforms.

India bought its first aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, from Russia in 2004. It had served in the former Soviet Union and later in the Russian navy.

With the Russian supply line hit by the fighting in Ukraine, India has been reducing its dependency on Russian arms and diversifying its defence procurements, buying more from the US, Israel, France and Italy.

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