India, Russia eyeing PM’s Moscow visit in early July

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If the visit takes place, it will be Modi’s first trip to Russia in nearly five years…reports Asian Lite News

India and Russia are looking at the possibility of a brief visit to Moscow by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in early July to hold wide-ranging talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

If the visit takes place, it will be Modi’s first trip to Russia in nearly five years. His last visit to Russia was in 2019 when he attended an economic conclave in the Far East city of Vladivostok.

Though there is no confirmation from the Indian side on Modi’s possible visit, a Kremlin official in Moscow said active preparations are underway for the trip.

“I can confirm that we are preparing a visit by the prime minister of India. We cannot (say) the dates as yet, because the dates are announced by the parties in agreement,” Yuri Ushakov, an assistant to the Russian president, said.

“But we are actively preparing. I will emphasise once again, this visit will take place,” he told reporters, replying to a question.

Diplomatic sources said the Indian prime minister’s day-long visit is being planned around July 8, adding there is no finality on the date yet and various options are being explored.

If Modi travels to Russia, then he and President Putin are set to hold the India-Russia annual summit after a gap of three years.

The annual summit between the prime minister of India and the president of Russia is the highest institutional dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between the two countries.

So far, 21 annual summits have taken place alternatively in India and Russia.

The last summit was held on December 6, 2021, in New Delhi. President Putin had visited India to attend the summit.

The summit saw both sides sealing 28 MoUs and agreements, besides coming out with a joint statement titled “India-Russia Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity”.

Prime Minister Modi and President Putin last held bilateral talks on the margins of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at Samarkand in Uzbekistan on September 16, 2022.

In the meeting, Modi had famously pressed Putin to end the conflict in Ukraine saying “today’s era is not of war”.

“I know today’s era is not of war. We discussed this issue on phone several times that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue touch the entire world,” Modi had said.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Modi has held several telephonic conversations with Putin and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In reflection of its strong friendship with Russia, India has not yet condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.

India’s import of Russian crude oil has also gone up significantly notwithstanding the G7 price cap and increasing disquiet over the procurement in many Western countries.

In December 2022, the G7 grouping and its allies announced a cap on the price of Russian oil as part of a series of punitive measures against Moscow in view of its invasion of Ukraine. The price cap restricts countries to pay more than USD 60 a barrel.

The Kremlin official’s comments on Russia’s preparations for Modi’s visit came against the backdrop of the Indian prime minister’s decision to skip attending the SCO Summit in Kazakhstan from July 3 to 4.

Russia is hosting the annual summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in October and Russian officials said Moscow is hopeful of Modi’s presence at the conclave.

Russia has been a longstanding and time-tested partner for India. Development of India-Russia relations has been a key pillar of India’s foreign policy.

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