NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice to Russian President Vladimir Putin that this is not the era of war has won plaudits the world over. It has not only grabbed international headlines but also earned robust support from world leaders in the United Nations and other global forums. “Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, was correct when he said the time is not for war. It is not to get revenge on the West or to pit the West against the East,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on September 20. “It is time for our sovereign equal states to cope together with challenges we face,” he said. Macron’s views were echoed by other leaders at the UNGA. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan described PM Modi’s remarks as a “statement of principle on behalf of what he believes is right and just.”
Achieving what the UN itself couldn’t do, PM Modi’s initiative has opened the window for early resolution of the RussiaUkraine war that has been raging since February 24.
The Prime Minister’s bold intervention came during his talks with Russian President Putin on the sidelines of the 22nd Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at Samarkand on September 15-16. At his meeting with the Russian President – by far the most significant bilateral meeting at the summit – Modi gave him free and frank advice: “Today’s era is not of war. Today we will get the opportunity to talk about how we can progress on the path of peace.”
“We spoke several times on the phone about India-Russia bilateral relations and various issues. We should find ways to address the problems of food, fuel security and fertilisers. I want to thank Russia and Ukraine for helping us to evacuate our students from Ukraine,” he added.
Almost in unison, the international media praised the diplomatic acumen of the Indian Prime Minister, who in a friendly tone pushed the concerns of the global community to its long-standing friend Russia. While leading US publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post interpreted it as a rebuke to Russia, the Japanese and the Chinese media saw it as a strong pitch for peace.
Significantly, Putin himself took the advice with all the seriousness it deserved. “I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, the concerns that you constantly express,” Putin said, adding, “we will do everything to stop this as soon as possible.”
Modi’s meeting with Putin at Samarkand was highly anticipated as the two had last met in December 2021 and were meeting for the first time since Russia-Ukraine war broke out.
While the two leaders had spoken about the Ukraine conflict over the phone, India has all along maintained a steady position that a negotiated settlement was the only way to international dispute. India has also refused to join the economic boycott of Russia under pressure from the US and its allies. Despite the heightened tensions between the Russia and the West, the relations between Russia and India are in the nature of a privileged strategic partnership and continue to develop.
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