India’s Modi makes first Russia visit since Ukraine invasion

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in Moscow for a two-day visit, his first since Russia sent troops into Ukraine – an action that has complicated the relationship between the longtime partners and pushed Russia closer to India’s rival, China.

Modi was set to have dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, followed by talks at the Kremlin on Tuesday.

“I look forward to reviewing all aspects of bilateral cooperation with my friend President Vladimir Putin and sharing perspectives on various regional and global issues,” said Modi in a statement.

“We seek to play a supportive role for a peaceful and stable region.

Modi last travelled to Russia in 2019, when he attended a forum in the far eastern port of Vladivostok and met with Putin. The leaders also saw each other in September 2022 at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, held in Uzbekistan.

Moscow remains a key supplier of cut-price oil and weapons to India, especially following sanctions on Russia imposed by the United States and its allies that came in response to the Russia-Ukraine war and that shut most Western markets off to Russian exports. According to analysts, India now gets more than 40 percent of its oil imports from Russia.

But the Kremlin’s isolation from the West and blooming friendship with Beijing have impacted Moscow’s time-honoured partnership with New Delhi.

Western powers have in recent years also cultivated ties with India as a bulwark against China and its growing influence in the Asia-Pacific, while pressuring it to distance itself from Russia.

Modi last visited Russia in 2019 and hosted Putin in New Delhi two years later, weeks before Russia began its offensive against Ukraine in February 2022. However, the partnership between Moscow and New Delhi has become fraught as Russia has moved closer to China.

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