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Russia India’s all-weather friend, says Modi- New Delhi cannot afford to go blatantly against the Russians | Mio Kitchen

PTI, Moscow, Jul 9, 2024 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday made a wholehearted endorsement of India’s ties with Russia, describing the old ally as India’s “all-weather friend” and lauding President Vladimir Putin for strengthening the bilateral relations over the past two decades of his leadership.

Addressing the Indian diaspora, he said the India-Russia relationship is built on the strong pillar of mutual trust and respect, asserting that their ties were tested time and again only to emerge stronger every time.

Modi’s high praise of Russia as an ally and Putin’s leadership came amid ongoing efforts by the Western world to isolate the Russian leader over the war in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Modi also made a veiled criticism of the “influence-oriented global order” which endured for decades.

“But, what the world needs right now is confluence not influence and no one can deliver this message better than India which has a strong tradition of worshipping confluences,” he said.

He said India is being seen as a strong pillar in the “emerging multipolar world order”.

“When it speaks of peace, dialogue and diplomacy, then the whole world listens.” Modi has often stressed the need for dialogue and diplomacy to end the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Commenting on India’s ties with Russia, he said he has been for decades an admirer of the unique partnership between the two countries.

“On hearing the word Russia, the first word that comes to the mind of every Indian is India’s ‘sukh-dukh ka saathi’ (all-weather friend) and a trusted ally,” he said.

“No matter how low the temperature dips below zero degrees during Russian winter, India-Russia friendship has always remained in ‘plus’ and been full of warmth.     This relationship is built on the strong foundation of mutual trust and mutual respect,” Modi said.

He said he had a special appreciation for “his friend” Putin for steering the India-Russia friendship to greater heights over the last two decades.

As prime minister, he said it was his sixth visit to Russia and the two leaders have met 17 times during this period.

“All these meetings have added to our mutual trust and respect,” he said, praising Putin for helping the evacuation of Indian students during the war. He expressed gratitude to the Russian leader and Russian citizens for this.

To the applause from the audience, he announced that India will open two new consulates in Russia to boost travel and trade between the two countries.

Recalling the celebrated Hindi song ‘Sar pe lal topi Rusi, phir bhi dil hai Hindustani’ picturised on Raj Kapoor, he said it may be an old number but its sentiments remain evergreen.

He also mentioned Mithun Chakraborty, another Indian actor who earned a big following in Russia, as he spoke about the deep cultural ties between the two countries.

Modi said India was undergoing a transformation and the pace of development over the past 10 years has taken the world by surprise. Even the world now acknowledges what he used to say during his poll campaign that the 21st century belongs to India, he added.

The fast pace of India’s development will write a “new chapter” in the world’s progress, he said.

He said India was changing as it believes in the strength of its 140 crore citizens who are now dreaming of turning their resolve of ‘Viksit Bharat’ into reality.

“Today’s India is brimming with self-confidence, unlike the situation before 2014 when the country was sunk in despair, and this is our biggest capital,” Modi said.

In this context, he mentioned India’s win in the T20 World Cup and added that India’s teams in different sports were giving a historic performance.

“The youth India of today does not concede defeat till the last ball and the last moment,” he said, adding that the country is sending a strong team for the Paris Olympics and its athletes will show their mettle.

“When people like you bless us, even the biggest goals can be achieved. You all know that today’s India achieves whatever goal it sets its mind to,” he said.

He said it was in his DNA to challenge all the challenges and India will write a new chapter of global growth in coming years.

Modi said it was exactly a month ago that he took oath as prime minister for the third consecutive term when he had made the resolve to work at thrice the strength and speed to fulfil the aspirations of the country.

“Our government envisions making India the world’s third-largest economy, build three crore homes for the poor and turn three crore poor women in villages to ‘lakhpati didi’,” the prime minister said amid chants of ‘Modi, Modi’ and ‘Modi hai toh mumkin hai’.

He said India was the country which sent Chandrayaan to a place on the moon where no country has gone before and has given the work the most reliable model for digital transactions.

“India’s development of the past 10 years was just a trailer, we will see much faster growth in the next 10 years,” Modi asserted.

The Indian diaspora takes pride in the country’s achievements, he added.

The Week: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for an hour-long ‘restricted meeting’ in the latter’s Novo-Ogaryovo ‘dacha’ outside Moscow on Monday evening but the lurking shadow of China may have loomed large.

Modi was quoted by Russian news agency TASS after the Indian PM while addressing a meeting with members of Moscow’s Indian community as saying that Russia has stood by India’s side through thick and thin and is India’s true friend.

“The temperature sometimes falls below zero in Russia but the temperature is always above zero in Indian-Russian relations… Russia remains India’s trusted friend in any weather,” TASS quoted him as saying.

In what was a reiteration of the Indian position, an official source said: “India has always called for respecting the UN Charter, including territorial integrity and sovereignty. There is no solution on the battlefield. Dialogue and diplomacy is the way forward.”

“The focus of the visit is the economic agenda (energy, trade, manufacturing, fertilizers), and ‘a solution cannot be found on the battlefield’”, the source added.

But just a day before, Russian missiles had hit residential and civilian infrastructure across Ukraine, including in the cities of Kyiv, Kryvyi Rih, Dnipro and Pokrovsk, killing dozens of civilians, including children and injuring more than 150. In Kyiv, the Okhmatdyt National Children’s Specialized Hospital was also hit.

The attack had drawn strong condemnation from the UN Secretary-General on Tuesday. 

The Indian statement is in pursuance of India’s stated policy of strategic autonomy that was best exhibited by adopting the ‘middle way’ on the Ukraine conflict. Neither did India categorically condemn the Russian foray into Ukraine nor did it toe the US-led position of actively supporting the Ukrainians by supplying weapons and logistics.

India’s position may be a forced one where China is the big elephant in the room. If cannot afford to go blatantly against the Russians because of several reasons. Russia would further build close ties in its axis with China threatening Indian sourcing of weapon platforms, systems and spares from Russia. India also wants some sort of leeway with China and for that, Russia is the best bet to convince the Chinese to see and appreciate the Indian position.

Nor can India treat the US-led NATO and the West with impunity because of its volatile relationship with China which spiked since mid-2020 after the border clashes in the Pangong Tso and the more brutal Galwan brawl.

It is therefore a compulsion that India cannot be seen as being partisan to either of the two sides.

Brazil and South Africa, both competitors with India to assume leadership of the ‘Global South’ have a position similar to India but at least in their case, there is no hostility with China.

On the obvious side, besides Ukraine, the focus areas in the Modi-Putin talks would be firstly, on securing affordable energy supplies and keeping inflation/ price rise under check. Last year, more than 80 MMT of crude was imported from Russia.

Secondly, assuring fertilizer supply. Russia remains an important supplier of imported fertilizers. Last year, over 48 lakh tonnes of fertilizers were imported from Russia. The supply of fertilizers is important for India’s farmers, especially during the ongoing Kharif season and the Ravi season starting in October.

Thirdly, a need to secure long-term fuel supplies for the two new upcoming Russian-aided nuclear power plants of 1000 MW each at the Kudankulum Nuclear Power plant that are already in operation.

Interestingly, across the Atlantic, leaders from 38 countries in Washington are meeting for a summit to mark the 75th anniversary of the NATO alliance. On Thursday, the Summit will see a meeting of the NATO Ukraine Council, after which President Biden will host an event with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and nearly two dozen allies and partners, including the United States, who have security agreements with Ukraine.

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