Editorial: A Productive Summit In Moscow

Editorial: A Productive Summit In Moscow

India is vitally dependent on Russia for spares for its old military hardware. Due to the Ukraine attack, Russian armament factories are unable to fulfil the Indian demand for spares

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, July 10, 2024, 08:51 PM IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin | File Pic

To begin with, it ought to be recognised that despite stringent western sanctions against Russia and a virtual boycott of President Vladimir Putin India has continued to maintain friendly ties with it. Pursuing an independent foreign policy despite the US-led West frowning upon growing bonhomie between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin underlines the changed international scenario and the birth of a multi-polar world. Only a few years ago were India to further strengthen its economic ties defying Washington, it would have been penalised. No longer does the West see strategic merit in riling India, distancing itself from a reliable ally in the multifaceted effort to check the relentless growth of China as a formidable military and economic power. India’s crucial role in standing up to China is a major factor for the West to keep it in good humor. India also ideally could be a bridge between East and West, especially as one the key powers in this part of the world. Besides, the huge opportunity it offers for western manufacturing industries and investments, India also serves as a huge market for western goods. In the above scenario, the highly stepped up energy imports from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine angered the West. However it sullenly put up with it for fear of a public rebuff from a resurgent India. The above was the backdrop for the two-day Modi-Putin summit in Moscow after five years. This is the first overseas visit of Modi after being voted to power for the third term in a row. It was also their first face-to-face meeting after the Russian attack on Ukraine. Indeed, the day newspapers published a photograph of the two leaders hugging each other in typical Modi style, the world reported a Russian missile attack on a children’s hospital in Ukraine resulting in nearly thirty fatalities. This caused President Volodymyr Zelensky to question Modi’s “jaffi-pappi” with Putin, without him being aware that Modi most forthrightly reiterated his old stand condemning war as a solution to end disputes. Modi was clear that no solution could be found on battlefield. “Solutions and peace talks cannot be successful under the shadow of guns, bombs and bullets…” Though India officially did not participate in the recent peace summit in Switzerland convened at the behest of Ukraine, it has repeatedly called for cease-fire followed by talks to resolve the dispute. With President Putin listening Modi on Monday again emphasised the need for an end to armed hostilities to give peace a chance in the beleaguered Ukraine which for over two years now has been a victim of a naked Russian aggression. It is also notable that Putin aside from fellow authoritarian countries, namely China, Iran and North Korea has only India to count as a friend in the entire democratic world. So, necessarily, he must give the Indian leader some slack when he most embarrassingly preaches peace while he brazenly wages a war of aggression against its much smaller neighbor. On its part, India is vitally dependent on Russia for spares for its old military hardware. Due to the Ukraine attack, Russian armament factories are unable to fulfil the Indian demand for spares. Happily, in recent years India has increasingly diversified supplies of its military equipments from the Western countries.

Meanwhile, due to Western sanctions the payment for imports of Russian oil and fertilisers, among other such goods, is posing a huge problem. Russia needs hard currency for the discounted oil imports, but the sanctions are a stumbling block. Cross-border investment could be a solution but amidst sanctions this seems difficult. Under the circumstance the agreement to try and boost bilateral trade from the current $65 billion to $100 billion in 2030 may be difficult to achieve. The joint statement condemned terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir while both leaders called for unhindered access of humanitarian aid for the Palestinian civilian population in the war-torn Gaza. Also they sought the early unconditional release of Israeli hostages by Hamas. Meanwhile, the always frivolous Congress general secretary and media in-charge Jairam Ramesh failing to find anything meaningful to say about Modi’s visit harped on the unfortunate coincidence of the Russian attack on the children’s hospital in Kyiv, approvingly quoting the remarks of Ukrainian President Zelensky. To see even foreign affairs through the prism of the standard anti-Modi virus of the party detracts from the seriousness with which the main Opposition party craves to be taken by the Indian people. It is for Ramesh to figure out whether he should persist with his habitual childish derision of all things Modi and thus invite popular mocking in return. Or he should did deep into his highly-educated self to expound seriously on governmental matters. Surely he is not itching to match the Balak Buddhi of his leader.

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