In what was the latest in a series of setbacks for the Russian leader, Modi told him of the need to “commit to the path of peace” and reminded him of the importance of “democracy, diplomacy and dialogue”.
Modi’s comments came during a face-to-face meeting Friday, on the sidelines of a regional summit, and underscored Russia’s growing isolation in the diplomatic arena. They came just a day after Putin acknowledged that China too had “questions and concerns” about the invasion.
“I know that today’s era is not one of war and we have spoken to you many times on the phone about the fact that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue are all those things that affect the world” , Modi told Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
Putin responded by telling the Indian leader that he was aware of his concerns.
“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine and I know your concerns. We want this all to end as soon as possible,” he said.
Modi’s apparent criticism of the Russian invasion is just the latest setback for Putin, whose forces have suffered a string of major battlefield defeats in recent weeks. Ukraine claims to have taken back some 8,000 square kilometers of territory.
Diplomatically, Moscow also seems on a losing streak and this was evidenced by exchanges at the Samarkand summit, which brings together leaders from Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and four countries from Central Asia.
However, signs of divisions have emerged over the Russian invasion, which has unsettled leaders of former Soviet territories in Central Asia who fear Russia may also encroach on their territory.
India and China are the biggest customers of Russian oil, and suggestions in recent days that both have reservations about the war give Moscow plenty to think about.
Earlier in the summit, after acknowledging China’s concerns, Putin said, “We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukraine crisis.”
In a statement released after Friday’s meeting, India’s External Affairs Ministry said discussions between the two leaders “also covered global food security, energy security and fertilizer availability in the context of challenges emanating from the current geopolitical situation.
“They agreed to keep in touch,” the ministry added.