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‘Heart-wrenching if children die, solutions not possible on battlefield,’ Modi tells Putin

‘Heart-wrenching if children die, solutions not possible on battlefield,’ Modi tells Putin

MOSCOW/New Delhi: On the second and final day of his visit to Russia on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly raised the issue of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and told Russian President Vladimir Putin that it is “heart-wrenching” when innocent children are killed. PM Modi’s direct reference was to a wave of strikes by Russia on Monday targeting Kyiv, where a children’s hospital was destroyed.

PM Modi held a bilateral meeting with President Putin, their first in two years. This is also their first meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Addressing the invasion head-on while acknowledging the close ties between the two countries, PM Modi told the Russian president: “If innocent children are murdered; if innocent children die, it is heart-wrenching.”

“The solution to this conflict cannot be found on the battlefield; it is only possible through dialogue and diplomacy,” he said.

In his remarks on Tuesday, he said India is willing to offer all possible support, contributions, and cooperation required to address this particular challenge and find peaceful solutions.

“We have expressed our position on this conflict several times in the past. The PM was very clear and categorical in expressing his concern and regret at the loss of innocent lives, including children,” said Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra while briefing journalists.

The Prime Minister stressed that he had conveyed the expectations of the Global South for peace and stability to President Putin, reiterating that “no solution is possible on the battlefield.” PM Modi raised the issue of the Russia-Ukraine conflict both during his private dinner meeting with President Putin the previous evening and at bilateral talks on Tuesday.

Emphasising India’s readiness to cooperate in all possible ways for the restoration of peace, the PM said in Hindi: “I assure you and the world community that India stands for peace. Your words yesterday have given me hope. For future generations to have a bright future, peace is essential. Peace talks cannot succeed amidst bombs, guns, and bullets.”

The Foreign Secretary stated that discussions during the talks focused on further strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries, especially in energy, trade, manufacturing, and fertilisers.

Despite criticism from the West, India has become a major buyer of Russian oil, benefiting both countries by providing a crucial export market for Moscow after several European countries decided to cease oil purchases due to the Ukraine invasion.

Expressing confidence that India-Russia ties will strengthen further, PM Modi, on his first bilateral visit in his third term, said cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector has also benefited the world.

The prime minister also flagged concerns over the challenges of terrorism.

At a time when India has experienced a series of terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, PM Modi informed President Putin that the country has faced the challenge of terrorism for around 40 years.

In his briefing, the Foreign Secretary said that a significant component of economic engagement also focused on how the partnership between India and Russia could boost initiatives like Make in India and other manufacturing partnerships aimed at enhancing self-reliance across various economic sectors in India.

“A significant element of today’s discussion also focused on connectivity corridors. In this regard, the two leaders discussed the proposed new Eastern corridor, known as the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Corridor. They also emphasised critical areas in the economic domain that are crucial for the growth of different sectors in both countries, particularly the supply of fertilisers from Russia to India, which directly impacts crop production and farmers’ yields,” said Foreign Secretary Kwatra.

He added that the two leaders also discussed the need to progress on the India-Eurasian Economic Union Trade and Goods Agreement. “We have had one round of discussions between the two countries, and it is expected that this will be expedited in the months ahead. The two leaders have set a new trade target of $100 billion by 2030,” he concluded.

India and Russia inked nine MoUs and agreements on several areas, including trade, climate and research, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day high-profile visit to Moscow which concluded on Tuesday.

To facilitate a further increase in trade and joint investment projects between the Far East Region of Russia and India, the two countries inked a program of bilateral cooperation in trade, economic and investment spheres in the Russian Far East for the period from 2024 to 2029 as well as of cooperation principles in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, according to the list of agreements and MoUs released by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy took objection to the Indian leader hugging Putin.

“A Russian missile struck the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine, targeting young cancer patients. Many were buried under the rubble,” Zelenskyy said on ‘X’.

“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 said.

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