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Modi’s Moscow visit: Broader trade & maritime corridor

Newsman: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Moscow for a two-day visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.Modi, making his first trip to Russia since 2019, hopes to strengthen energy and defence cooperation with Russia, which India depends on for much of its military equipment and oil. The Indian prime minister’s visit — which partially coincides with this week’s NATO summit gathering in Washington, D.C.

Putin – speaking before Modi at a televised meeting at the Kremlin on Tuesday – said their two countries enjoyed a “special strategic partnership” and praised the Indian leader for his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

 “I thank you for the attention you are paying to the most acute problems, including trying to find ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis – above all by peaceful means, of course,” said Putin.

“As a friend, I have also said for the brighter future of our next generation, peace is of utmost importance,” Modi said in Hindi, sitting alongside Putin. “When innocent children are murdered, one sees them die, the heart pains and that pain is unbearable.”

The Indian leader’s comments come a day after a lethal strike on a children’s hospital in Kyiv, just one of a series of attacks that killed 37 people in Ukraine.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that peace is “of utmost importance” and a solution to the war in Ukraine “cannot be found on the battlefield”.

On Tuesday, Modi said he appreciated Putin’s leadership and described India’s relationship with Moscow as one of “mutual trust and mutual respect”.

He pointed to Russian manufacturing and energy as boosts to India’s economy, helping to create jobs for youth and tame fuel prices.

Putin and Modi are also expected to discuss broader trade development, including intentions to develop a maritime corridor between India’s major port of Chennai and Vladivostok, the gateway to Russia’s Far East.

India-Russia trade has seen a sharp increase, touching close to $65bn in the 2023-24 financial year, because of strong energy cooperation, according to Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra.

In one sign of further cooperation, Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom announced it is in discussions to potentially build six more nuclear power units in India.

New Delhi has increased its purchases of cheap Russian oil to record levels, while urging Ukraine and Russia to resolve their conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned India’s prime minister for visiting Russia, calling the trip a “devastating blow to peace efforts”.

Modi was greeted by a goose-stepping honor guard upon arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport Monday afternoon. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, who had worked with an Indian-Russia aeronautics company in the past, greeted him on the tarmac.Tthrongs of well-wishers gathered to wave Indian and Russian flags as Modi’s motorcade made his way toward his hotel across from the Kremlin,.

Ahead of his departure for Moscow, Modi noted the partnership with Russia had “advanced” over the past 10 years, and he looked forward to reviewing all aspects of bilateral cooperation with his “friend” Putin.

 “We seek to play a supportive role for a peaceful and stable region,” Modi added, without clarifying.

Statements by the Kremlin were similarly sanguine, saying that Modi’s visit would build on “traditionally friendly Russian-Indian relations.”

Among other announced activities: Putin will host Modi for a private dinner “with a free agenda” for discussion, the Kremlin’s spokesman said — setting the tone for formal talks on Tuesday.

There were no current plans for the leaders to address the media, the spokesman added.

One of key topics discussed will be development of alternative money transfer systems — think a Russian-Indian version of Paypal, Zelle or Venmo — as a workaround to Western sanctions that removed most Russian banks from the global SWIFT payment system.

Ahead of Modi’s visit, India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said talks would also focus on freeing between 30-40 Indians who were “misled” into Russian military service by promises of mercenary pay.

NEWSMAN
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