Modi springs surprise by assailing Putin

Published September 17, 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation leaders' summit in Samarkand on September 16, 2022. — AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation leaders' summit in Samarkand on September 16, 2022. — AFP

SAMARKAND: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that now was not the time for war, directly assailing the Kremlin chief in public over the nearly seven-month-long conflict in Ukraine.

Putin has repeatedly said Russia is not isolated because it can look eastwards to major Asian powers such as China and India.

But at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Orga­nisation (SCO), concerns spilled out into the open.

“I know that today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this,” Modi told Putin at a televised meeting in Samarkand.

As Modi made the remark, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999 pursed his lips, glanced at Modi and then looked down before touching the hair on the back of his head.

Putin told Modi that he understood the Indian leader had concerns about Ukraine, but that Moscow was doing everything it could to end the conflict.

“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, the concerns that you constantly express,” Putin said. “We will do everything to stop this as soon as possible.”

He said Ukraine had rejected negotiations. Ukraine has said it will fight until it drives all Russian troops from its land. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he will never accept a “peace” that allows Russia to keep Ukrainian land.

India has become Russia’s No. 2 oil buyer after China as others have cut purchases following the invasion.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2022

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