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Modi listening, Obama assails Putin on Ukraine

As Obama spoke, Modi looked around without responding or refuting any part.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
January 26, 2015 3:18:12 am
Modi with Putin last month. India has maintained that Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine, hasn’t condemned Moscow.(Source; Express Archive) Modi with Putin last month. India has maintained that Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine, hasn’t condemned Moscow. (Source: Express Archive)

About a month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Russian President Vladimir Putin as the leader of a great nation with which India has a “friendship of unmatched mutual confidence”, US President Barack Obama on Sunday talked tough on Russia “encroaching” on Ukraine’s sovereignty.

As Obama spoke, responding at length to a question from an American journalist, Modi looked around without responding or refuting any part.

“With respect to Ukraine, what I’ve said consistently is that we have no interest in seeing Russia weakened or its economy in shambles. We have a profound interest, as I believe every country does, in promoting a core principle, which is, large countries don’t bully smaller countries. They don’t encroach on their territorial integrity. They don’t encroach on their sovereignty. And that’s what’s at stake in Ukraine. And what we have done is to consistently isolate Russia on this issue and to raise the costs that Russia confronts,” Obama said.

“I’ve been very clear that it would not be effective for us to engage in a military conflict with Russia on this issue, but what we can do is to continue to support Ukraine’s ability to control its own territory. And that involves a combination of the economic pressure that’s been brought to bear in sanctions, the diplomatic isolation that has been brought to bear against Russia, and, as important as anything, making sure that we’re continuing to provide the support that Ukraine needs to sustain its economy during this transition period, and to help its military with basic supplies and equipment, as well as the continuing training and exercises that have been taking place between NATO and Ukraine for quite some time.”

Obama said the US was deeply concerned about the latest break in the ceasefire and the aggression that “these separatists — with Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and Russian troops — are conducting”. “And we will continue to take the approach that we’ve taken in the past, which is to ratchet up the pressure on Russia,” he said.

Asked about the US President speaking against Russia on Indian soil, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said, “It was an answer given by the US President in response to an US journalist’s question. You are aware of our strategic partnership with Russia.”

Last December, Modi said, “President Putin is a leader of a great nation with which we have a friendship of unmatched mutual confidence, trust and goodwill. We have a strategic partnership that is incomparable in content.”

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