Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 16, 2022 held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and reiterated the requirement for “peace and diplomacy” over the crisis in Ukraine, stated a press release from the Government of India. The Russian side informed that the two leaders discussed multiple issues including “mutual investment” and areas like energy cooperation, agriculture, transport and logistics.
“Following up on their meeting on Samarkand on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, the two leaders reviewed several aspects of the bilateral relationship, including energy cooperation, trade and investments, defence and security cooperation and other key areas. In the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Prime Minister reiterated his call for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way forward,” stated a press note issued by the Government of India after the telephone conversation. A readout of the interaction given by the Russian side stated that President Putin gave “fundamental assessments of Russia’s line” at the war in Ukraine after being requested by Prime Minister Modi.
The phone call has come days after speculation began about Mr. Modi not travelling to Moscow for the annual summit with Russia. President Putin had visited Delhi on December 6, 2021 for the annual summit and it was the turn of Mr Modi to travel to Moscow. A diplomatic source said, “not a word” was discussed about the annual summit by the two leaders but the Russian President’s Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had said earlier that “no contacts” were planned this year.
India-Russia relation has received great deal of western attention in 2022 especially after Russia emerged as the topmost supplier of energy to India in the backdrop of the war in Ukraine that was started on February 24 with Russian missile attacks on Ukraine. The Russian readout however indicated that the cooperation in that direction is expected to strengthen in the coming months and said, “Having expressed satisfaction with the high level of bilateral cooperation developing on the principles of the Russian-Indian special and privileged strategic partnership, the leaders discussed in detail the prospects for practical interaction in such areas as mutual investment, energy, agriculture, transport and logistics.”
Russia has continued to remain on top of the list of energy suppliers to India despite western criticism that has received strong pushback from India. Earlier this month, External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar said Europe should not set India’s energy priorities.
The two leaders also discussed “close coordination” regarding the Indian Presidency of G-20 and the upcoming Chairship of India at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). As the President of G-20 and Chair of the SCO, India is expected to host the summit meetings in 2023. It is understood till now that the top leadership of Russia is expected to travel to India for both the summits. Mr Modi met with President Putin in Samarkand for the SCO summit in September when the Indian leader urged for peace and diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine. The two leaders have held several phone calls during 2022 primarily to seek evacuation of Indian nationals from battle torn regions of Ukraine as well as for finding an end to the war which has dragged on.