Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in Ukraine soon, saying “today’s era is not of war” even as he called for finding ways to address the global food and energy security crisis.
In a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in this Silk Road city, Modi also underlined the importance of “democracy, dialogue and diplomacy” while calling for an early cessation of hostilities in Ukraine.
“Today the biggest worry before the world, especially developing countries, is food security, fuel security, fertilisers. We must find ways on these problems and you will also have to consider it. We will get an opportunity to talk about these issues,” Modi said in his opening remarks.
It was the first in-person meeting between the two leaders after the Ukraine conflict began in February.
“I know today’s era is not of war. We discussed this issue with you on phone several times, that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue touch the entire world. We will have the opportunity to talk today about how we can move forward on the road of peace in the coming days,” Modi said.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said the prime minister reiterated his call for an early cessation of hostilities and the need for dialogue and diplomacy in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
On his part, Putin told Modi that he was aware of India’s concerns over the Ukraine conflict and that Russia will do everything possible to end it as soon as possible.
“I know about your position on the conflict in Ukraine. I know about your concerns. I know that you share these concerns and we all want an end to all of these as soon as possible,” Putin said in his televised opening remarks at the meeting.
The Russian President said Ukraine has refused to engage in the negotiation process and it wants to achieve its “objectives on the battlefield militarily.” “We will keep you abreast of everything that is happening over there,” Putin conveyed to Modi.
Following the meeting, Modi described the talks as “wonderful”.
“Had a wonderful meeting with President Putin. We got the opportunity to discuss furthering India-Russia cooperation in sectors such as trade, energy, defence and more. We also discussed other bilateral and global issues,” he tweeted.
The MEA said the two leaders appreciated the sustained momentum in bilateral ties, including contacts at various levels, adding they discussed important issues of bilateral cooperation as well as regional and global issues of interest.
“The discussions also pertained to global food security, energy security and availability of fertilisers in the context of the challenges emanating from the current geo-political situation,” it said.
In his opening remarks, President Putin said the ties between India and Russia continued to develop “very rapidly” and both sides are actively engaged at international platforms on key issues.
“It is important that we constantly coordinate our positions,” he said.
Putin also referred to increase in bilateral trade turnover.
“The trade turnover is growing, in particular due to the supplies, as you asked to do, of additional deliveries of Russian fertilizers to the Indian market,” Putin said.
“Deliveries of fertilizers from Russia to India have increased by more than eight times,” he added.
The prime minister said he is thankful to Russia and Ukraine for facilitating rescue of Indian students from various areas of Ukraine in the initial phase of the conflict.
“I would like to thank Ukraine and you because in the initial days of this crisis, thousands of our students were stuck in Ukraine. We managed to get our students safely out of Ukraine with help from you and Ukraine. I am thankful to both the countries,” he said.
The prime minister said ties between India and Russia have strengthened manifold and New Delhi values its relationship with Moscow.
“Ties between India and Russia have grown manifold. We give importance to the relationship as we have been friends who have stayed together for many decades and the world knows what Russia’s relations with India have been and what India’s relationship with Russia have been. The world knows that this is an unbreakable friendship,” Modi said.
In his remarks, Putin also talked about his “warm memories” of visiting India in December last year and invited Modi to visit Russia.
Putin also greeted Modi on his birthday on Saturday.
“I also know that tomorrow, my dear friend, you are about to celebrate your birthday. As part of Russian tradition we never offer congratulations in advance. So I cannot do that right now…we wish all the very best to the friendly Indian nation and we wish prosperity to India under your leadership,” he said.
In a tweet, the prime minister’s office described the talks as “productive”.
“The two leaders had productive discussions on a wide range of subjects aimed at further strengthening India-Russia ties,” it said on Twitter.
In the last few months, India has increased the import of discounted crude oil from Russia notwithstanding increasing disquiet over it by several Western powers.
India’s crude oil imports from Russia have jumped over 50 times since April and now it makes up for 10 per cent of all crude bought from overseas.
Last month, Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov said Russia appreciates India for not supporting attempts to isolate it in multilateral forums and that bilateral trade between the two countries is on an upswing.
India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.