Russian President Vladimir Putin has told India’s Narendra Modi that he understood New Delhi’s concerns about the conflict in Ukraine and wanted it to end “as soon as possible”, according to a readout of a bilateral meeting published by the Kremlin.
The Indian prime minister told Putin on Friday on the sidelines of a regional security bloc summit in Uzbekistan: “I know that today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this.” He said democracy, diplomacy and dialogue kept the world together.
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But Putin said Kyiv had rejected negotiations and was set on achieving its own objectives “on the battlefield”.
“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns that you constantly express,” he told Modi on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
“We will do everything to stop this as soon as possible. Only, unfortunately, the opposing side, the leadership of Ukraine, announced its rejection of the negotiation process and stated that it wants to achieve its goals by military means.”
New Delhi and Moscow have longstanding ties dating back to the Cold War, and Russia remains by far India’s biggest arms supplier.
Currently, Russia controls about a fifth of Ukraine after sending its armed forces into its neighbour’s territory from several directions in February.
Moscow says its “special military operation” was necessary to prevent Ukraine from being used as a platform for Western aggression, and to defend Russian speakers.
Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss these arguments as baseless pretexts for an imperial-style war of aggression, and have urged Russia to withdraw unconditionally.
On September 6, Kyiv launched a counteroffensive that took Russian forces by surprise. The lightning advance resulted in Ukrainian forces reclaiming some 8,000sq km (3,090sq miles) of territory in the Kharkiv region.
Putin had made similar comments to Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday, saying he understood Beijing’s concerns about the conflict.
Russia is trying to forge closer ties with both China and India as Moscow faces isolation and onerous sanctions from the West over its invasion of Ukraine.
Both countries have stepped up their purchases of Russian energy – trading at a discount on world markets as Western countries buy less – and talked about building closer economic ties.
“Our trade is growing, thanks to your additional supplies of Russian fertilisers to the Indian markets, which have grown more than eightfold. I am hopeful that this is going to be of huge help to the agricultural sector of India,” Putin told Modi.