PM: Bombs, bullets stymie peace push

Putin promises early release of Indians working in Russian military; ambitious bilateral annual trade target of $100 bn set for 2030.
Russian President Vladimir Putin confers the award of the ‘Order of St Andrew the Apostle’ on visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Kremlin in Moscow on Tuesday | AP/PTI
Russian President Vladimir Putin confers the award of the ‘Order of St Andrew the Apostle’ on visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Kremlin in Moscow on Tuesday | AP/PTI

NEW DELHI: Visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised in his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that a solution to the Ukraine war cannot be found in the battlefield, adding efforts for peace do not succeed in the midst of bombs and bullets.

The talks came amid reports of a Russian cruise missile bombing a children’s hospital in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Modi said in his televised opening remarks at the summit talks on Tuesday, “Let’s take war, any conflict or terrorist acts: any person who believes in humanity feels pain when people die, and especially when innocent children die.

When we feel such pain, the heart simply explodes, and I had the opportunity to talk about these issues with you yesterday,” Modi told Putin. He said both discussed Ukraine and other matters extensively for over 4-5 hours.

For his part, Putin said, “I appreciate the attention India has paid to pressing issues, which includes efforts to finding ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis primarily through peaceful means.”

Later, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “Modi is not claiming to be a mediator” on Ukraine. The Indian PM, he informed, suggested proposals to end the war. But he doubted if the NATO grouping would consider Modi’s peace initiatives.

In his opening remarks, Putin reaffirmed that Russia and India have a special and privileged partnership and that trade between the two countries grew by 66% last year and by 20% in the first quarter of 2024.

Putin also conferred on Modi the ‘Order of St Andrew the Apostle’ for his outstanding services in developing the strategic partnership between Russia and India. The award was announced in 2019.

In their bilateral talks, Putin agreed to Modi’s strong demand for the early release and return of the Indian nationals working in the Russian military as support staff. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said the Russian side promised early discharge of all Indian nationals from the service of the Russian Army.

Modi also expressed concern over delay in the shipping defence spare parts. Meanwhile, India will be opening two new consulates in Russia — at Kazan and Yekaterinburg.

Tasks ahead

  • Aspiration for elimination of non-tariff trade barriers on bilateral trade. Continuation of talks to liberalise bilateral trade, including possibility to establish EAEU-India Free Trade Area. Raising mutual trade volume to over $100 bn by 2030

  • Development of a bilateral settlement system using national currencies

  • Increase of cargo turnover with India through the launch of new routes of the North-South International Transport Corridor, the Northern Sea Route and the Chennai-Vladivostok Sea Line

  • Increase of bilateral trade in agri products, food and fertilisers

  • Cooperation in energy sectors like nuclear energy, oil refining, petrochem. Facilitation of energy security amid global energy transition

  • Strengthening interaction in infra development, transport engineering, automobile production and shipbuilding, space and other industrial sectors

  • Promotion of investments and joint projects across various sectors of digital economy, science and research, educational exchanges and internships for employees of high-tech companies

  • Studying possibility of opening branches of Indian medical institutions in Russia

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