India refuses to denounce ‘friend’ Vladimir Putin over Ukraine invasion despite US pressure

Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, has refused to denounce Vladimir Putin, his country’s “friend” and arms supplier, despite pressure from Washington.

Joe Biden held a virtual summit on Thursday with Mr Modi and other leaders of the Quad grouping of nations – the US, India, Japan and Australia.

It came a day after Mr Modi spoke to Mr Putin for the second time since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

The US has called on India to use its “leverage” with Moscow.

Indian defence and strategic experts argue that it should not dump Russia, which is a “traditional friend” and main supplier of arms and technology to the Indian military.

An Indian statement before the meeting made no mention of the Ukraine crisis.

protest - AFP© Provided by The Telegraph protest – AFP

It said Mr Biden, Mr Modi, Fumio Kishida of Japan, and Scott Morrison of Australia, would “exchange views and assessments about important developments in the Indo-Pacific”.

The Quad is seen as a bulwark against China.

There have been concerns in India that the crisis in Ukraine will distract Washington from the region.

Other Quad leaders, who have all condemned Russia’s invasion, were expected to pressure Mr Modi to take a more critical line on Russia.

India leaned towards the Soviet Union in the Cold War and continues to maintain strong ties with Moscow.

It has urged Russia and Ukraine to cease hostilities, but has stopped short of condemning the invasion.

On Wednesday, it abstained from a United Nations resolution deploring Russia’s actions.

Modi - AFP© Provided by The Telegraph Modi – AFP

Pravin Sawhney, an Indian defence and strategic expert, said: “Today with the PLA [China’s People’s Liberation Army] sitting on our border both in Ladakh as well as the Line of

Actual Control (LAC), Russia, a traditional friend, is the only bridge to interact and talk with the Chinese.”

Brahma Chellaney, an Indian strategic analyst, said: “Unlike Japan and Australia, which are under the US security (and nuclear) umbrella, India has to deal with China on its own.”

India’s former foreign secretary, Kanwal Sibal, said it should not “create any serious misunderstanding with Moscow at the bilateral level on an issue (Ukraine) which is of no direct concern to it.”

Ukraine grid 03-03© Provided by The Telegraph Ukraine grid 03-03

In a joint statement after the meeting the Quad leaders said they had “discussed the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and assessed its broader implications.”

They agreed to “provide a channel for communication as they each address and respond to the crisis in Ukraine.”

Mr Kishida, the Japanese prime minister, said the leaders had agreed that what was happening to Ukraine should not be allowed to happen in the Indo-Pacific.


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