In Moscow, India's Modi calls for peace, decries 'heart-wrenching' death of children

Urging peace during a visit to Moscow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the death of children was painful, and a resolution to the war in Ukraine cannot be found on the battlefield.
India's Modi calls for peace:- Urging peace during a visit to Moscow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the death of children was painful [VOA]
India's Modi calls for peace:- Urging peace during a visit to Moscow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the death of children was painful [VOA]

India's Modi calls for peace:- Urging peace during a visit to Moscow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the death of children was painful, and a resolution to the war in Ukraine cannot be found on the battlefield.

The two leaders held a summit Tuesday, their first since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, in which both leaders underlined their commitment to deepen ties.

Modi’s remarks came a day after the main children's hospital in Kyiv was hit by a missile strike, which Ukraine blamed on Russia, but for which Moscow has denied responsibility. Several other cities in Ukraine also were hit in deadly strikes, killing at least 31 people.

In televised remarks at the Kremlin, Modi said, "Whether it is war, conflicts, or terror attacks, everyone who believes in humanity is pained when there is loss of lives. But when innocent children are killed, when we see innocent children dying, it is heart-wrenching and that pain is immense.”

Asserting that India is ready to cooperate in "all ways" for restoration of peace in the region, Modi said that “amid bombs, guns and bullets, solutions and peace talks do not succeed. We will have to follow the path to peace only through talks."

It was Modi’s first visit to Moscow in five years. The two countries had been holding annual summits since 2000, but none since 2021.

Images displayed bonhomie between the Indian and Russian leaders as they hugged, rode a golf cart at Putin’s residence and talked for several hours during a private dinner hosted by the Russian president on Monday before formal talks were held on Tuesday. Putin called Modi his “dear friend.”

As Modi began his visit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized the meeting.

"It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day," he wrote Monday on the social media platform X, in reference to the missile strike on the children’s hospital.

During Modi’s two-day visit, both countries hailed their strong partnership that dates back to the Cold War years.

"Our relationship is one of a particularly privileged strategic partnership," Putin said.

"I am grateful to you for the attention you pay to the most pressing issues, particularly trying to find ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis, primarily through peaceful means,” he was quoted as saying by the official TASS news agency.

Modi said the relationship had scaled new heights under Putin’s leadership and that they had taken significant decisions to deepen their partnership.

The visit came amid concerns that New Delhi’s longstanding ties with Russia were stagnating as it builds a closer partnership with the United States. Analysts said Russia’s growing proximity to Beijing is also a source of worry for New Delhi, whose ties with China are at an all-time low.

Modi said the energy cooperation between the two countries had helped India control fuel prices and bring stability in global markets. India did not join Western sanctions and has markedly increased its purchases of oil from Russia.

After the talks, Putin conferred Russia’s highest civilian award, the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, on Modi and said both countries were working for stability.

During an address to the Indian diaspora in Moscow, Modi called Russia a trusted ally and an “all weather friend.”

"Every Indian considers Russia to be India’s friend in good and bad times,” Modi said. Expressing appreciation for Putin’s leadership, he said that "the commitment of our relationship has been tested multiple times, and it has emerged very strong each time.

Modi announced the opening of two new consulates in Russia — in Kazan and Yekaterinburg.

Russia also agreed to facilitate the return of Indian nationals working in its army, following discussions between the two leaders, according to reports in the Indian media.

Several cases of Indians lured to Russia with the promise of lucrative jobs or education, who ended up fighting against Ukraine have been reported in the last few months.

The meeting between Modi and Putin took place as NATO leaders opened a summit in Washington where support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion is set to top the agenda.

India has walked a fine line as it builds a strong partnership with the United States but maintains ties with Russia.

As Modi began his visit on Monday, the United States said it has raised concerns with India about its relationship with Russia. "So, we would hope [that] India and any other country when they engage with Russia would make clear that Russia should respect the U.N. Charter, should respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

While the West has imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, multiple countries including China and India have continued to build ties, setting back efforts to isolate it. VOA/SP

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