What ‘Serious Messages’ Will Emerge from Modi’s Moscow Trip?


PM Modi’s first post-election trip abroad, announced by Russian President Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov, is set for next Monday…reports Arul Louis

“Serious messages” will come out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow next week and relations between the two countries will “blossom further”, Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday.

“We have relations of special privilege, strategic partnership with India, longtime friend of Russia,” he said speaking to reporters after his country assumed the presidency of the Security Council for this month.

“There will be substantive conversations on the whole range of issues that our countries cooperate on” and “there will be serious messages coming out of it and I presume in the form of joint documents,” he added.

“I expect Russian-Indian relations to blossom even better,” he said.

The visit announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov is expected next Monday and has special significance as it will be Prime Minister Modi’s first foreign trip after his election for a third term.

There have been no high-level bilateral visits between the two countries since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Prime Minister Modi last visited Russia in 2019 when he attended the fifth Eastern Economic Forum Summit in Vladivostok.

The last official visit to Moscow was in 2015.

Putin’s last visit to India was in 2021, but he skipped the G20 Summit presided over by Modi last year in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, PM Modi visited the US in 2021 and in 2023, when he was received by President Joe Biden during a state visit.

India has avoided a public denunciation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but has subtly expressed its displeasure when PM Modi told Putin directly during a meeting in Uzbekistan in 2022, “I know that today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this.”

India has continued pushing for a diplomatic solution to end the Ukraine war and PM Modi has also been in contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Defying the West, New Delhi has continued economic and defence ties with Moscow, particularly in energy.

Asked about former US President Donald Trump’s claim that he would be able to end the Ukraine war in 24 hours, Nebenzia said, “The Ukrainian crisis cannot be solved in one day.”

About the UN-sponsored talks with Afghanistan that began in Doha on Monday, he said it was “useful” but was sceptical of its outcome.

“Everybody wishes well to Afghanistan, but the roadmap how to do it is different from country to country and the devil is in the details,” he said.

The West prioritised human rights and “genuine rights” of women and girls in dealing with the Taliban regime, he added.

“We also are saying that, of course, the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan should be observed and that the government of Afghanistan should be inclusive, inclusive, not just by nationalities but by… the political spectrum that exists to represent the country fully,” he said.

But the “Taliban is de-facto authorities within Afghanistan and we’ve been saying consistently that you have to recognise this fact,” Nebenzia added.

“Deal with them as such, because whether you like it or not, this movement is running the country now,” he said.

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