PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi will not be travelling to Russia for the annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin this year, sources said, citing “scheduling issues”. This comes in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in which India has sought to maintain a diplomatic balancing act between the two sides.
The annual summit between the Indian Prime Minister and the Russian President is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between the two countries.
So far, 21 annual summits have taken place alternatively in India and Russia. The last summit was held on December 6, 2021 in New Delhi.
While the annual summits started in 2000, the in-person summit could not take place in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.
The summits usually take place within the calendar year, and with the year 2022 almost coming to a close, this year too there will be no in-person summit.
Modi and Putin had most recently met on the sidelines of the SCO Summit on September 16 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. At that time, Modi had told Putin that this is not an era for war and that had been reflected in the recent G20 Bali declaration as well.
Earlier this week, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told Parliament, “At Samarkand, Prime Minister voiced global sentiment when he declared that this was not an era of war. His statement was in the context of the Ukraine conflict, where our advocacy of dialogue and diplomacy has been consistent and persistent. It has a larger resonance as well. We have also extended support on specific concerns, such as supply of food grains and fertilizers, as indeed on security of nuclear installations. Our position has been broadly appreciated by the international community and finds reflection in the G20 Bali Declaration.”
Sources said the two leaders have maintained contact through telephone conversations. This year, they have had four telephone conversations since February 24.
While India has not explicitly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has called for an international probe into the Bucha massacre as well as has expressed concerns over the nuclear threats issued by Russian leaders.
At the UN Security Council as well, India has taken a nuanced position and abstained from voting against Russia in several resolutions since February 24. This, sources said, has been a real test of India’s diplomatic tightrope walk so far.
However, Delhi — despite facing pressure from the West to condemn Moscow’s actions — has continued to buy oil at discounted prices, something for which the Russian leadership has expressed its appreciation. Besides, India’s dependence on Russia for its defence supplies is about 60 to 70 per cent of its supplies, and that has faced some challenges in the wake of the conflict.