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Thursday, May 23, 2024

India supports ‘early end’ to Ukraine conflict – Modi to Zelensky

The prime minister held separate calls with Moscow and Kiev on Wednesday, reiterating New Delhi’s stand on the need for a peace settlement

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Moscow and Kiev during a call with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on Wednesday.

The telephone conversation between the two leaders took place hours after Modi had called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss expanding bilateral ties as well as the situation in Ukraine.

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In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday, Modi said he had “conveyed India’s consistent support for all efforts for peace and bringing an early end to the ongoing conflict” to the Ukrainian leader. New Delhi has also promised to provide humanitarian assistance to Kiev, he added.

Commenting on his conversation with Modi, Zelensky said Kiev sees India’s participation in a proposed peace conference in Switzerland later this year as “important.” Moscow has called the potential gathering “pointless” and indicated it has no intention of participating, even if officially invited. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week that the forum would be dedicated to the promotion of the ‘Zelensky peace formula’, which Moscow has criticized as unrealistic.

The Ukrainian president also called for increased trade ties with India, suggesting that teams from the two countries should meet in person. He also proposed holding a session of the intergovernmental commission on cooperation in New Delhi “in the nearest future.”

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Earlier this week, Bloomberg and several Indian outlets cited sources as saying that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba could visit New Delhi this month, as Kiev seeks support for the Swiss-led peace talks from India, China, and other nations of the Global South. It would be the first high-level visit by a Ukrainian official to India since the outbreak of the conflict with Russia in February 2022.

On Wednesday, media reports suggested that Zelensky had urged Modi to visit Ukraine after the general election in India, scheduled to run from April until June. The two leaders last met on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima in 2022. At the time, the Indian leader extended “clear support for dialogue and diplomacy” to resolve the conflict.

New Delhi remains skeptical over whether a peace summit without Russia’s participation will be effective, Bloomberg reported, citing officials. India continues to maintain strong political and economic ties with Moscow despite Western pressure, and has repeatedly stressed that the Ukraine conflict must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.

Before speaking to Zelensky on Wednesday, Modi called Putin to congratulate him on a landslide victory in the recent presidential election, and wished the Russian people “prosperity and well-being,” according to the Kremlin’s readout of the conversation. The leaders also committed to further coordination in multilateral formats, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS.