Putin hosts India's prime minister to deepen ties as NATO leaders gather in Washington


India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, deepening ties between the two nations as Western leaders gathered at a NATO summit in Washington and Russia stepped up attacks in Ukraine with deadly missile strikes.

While leaders — including President Joe Biden and Britain’s newly elected Prime Minister Keir Starmer — prepared to mark 75 years of the world’s biggest security organization, and reassure Ukraine of NATO’s support, Putin and Modi were pictured viewing an exhibition of nuclear technology in space.

Modi earlier Tuesday lay a wreath at a war memorial near the Kremlin during his first visit to Russia since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. He also met Putin Monday at the start of his two-day trip, shortly after Russian missiles slammed across Ukraine, severely damaging the largest children’s hospital in Kyiv and killing at least 42 people across the country, officials said.

While Modi’s trip received wall-to-wall coverage in Russia, coverage of Russia’s deadly attack on Ukraine has been muted.

Modi posted photos of his arrival in Moscow on the social media platform X, in both Russian and English, saying he was “looking forward to further deepening the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between our nations.”

“Stronger ties between our nations will greatly benefit our people,” he wrote, also sharing a picture of himself and Putin hugging.

Russian state media reported that Putin and Modi would discuss energy ties, including Russia helping India to build more nuclear power plants.

Russia has had strong ties with India since the Cold War, and New Delhi’s importance as a key trading partner has grown since war in Ukraine.

China and India have become key buyers of Russian oil following sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies that shut most Western markets off to Russian exports. India now gets more than 40% of its oil imports from Russia, according to analysts.

Modi last traveled to Russia in 2019, when he attended a forum in the far eastern port of Vladivostok and met with Putin. The leaders also saw each other in September 2022 in Uzbekistan, at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization bloc.

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

The partnership between Moscow and New Delhi has become fraught, however, as Russia has moved closer to China. Modi notably stayed away from last week’s summit in Kazakhstan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security grouping founded by Moscow and Beijing.

A confrontation in June 2020 along the disputed China-India border dramatically altered their already touchy relationship as rival troops fought with rocks, clubs and fists. At least 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers were killed. Tensions have persisted despite talks — and have seeped into how New Delhi looks at Moscow.

But Modi is expected to seek to continue close relations with Russia, which is also a major defense supplier for India.

With Moscow’s arms industries mostly serving the Russian military in Ukraine, India has been diversifying its defense procurements, buying more from the U.S., Israel, France and Italy.

Trade development also will figure strongly in the talks, particularly intentions to develop a maritime corridor between India’s major port of Chennai and Vladivostok, the gateway to Russia’s Far East.

India-Russia trade has seen a sharp increase, touching close to $65 billion in the 2023-24 financial year, due to strong energy cooperation, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra told reporters Friday. Imports from Russia touched $60 billion and exports from India $4 billion in the 2023-24 financial year. India’s financial year runs from April to March.



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