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India's Modi on visit to Moscow appreciates 'dear friend' Putin

Russia promises to discharge Indians "misled" into joining its army, Indian official says

July 10, 2024 00:00:00

Russia's President Vladimir Putin awards India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday. —Reuters

India's relationship with Russia is based on "mutual trust and mutual respect," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Moscow on Tuesday, where he also said he appreciated President Vladimir Putin's leadership, reports Reuters.

Modi was speaking in an address to the Indian diaspora on his first visit to Russia in five years.

His two-day visit coincides with a NATO summit in Washington expected to be dominated by the Ukraine war, although a senior Indian foreign ministry official last week said there was no significance in the timing and Modi's visit was part of a long-standing calendar of summits between the two countries.

"Every Indian considers Russia to be India's friend in good and bad times," Modi said.

"The commitment of our relationship has been tested multiple times, and it has emerged very strong each time," Modi said, adding that he appreciated his "dear friend" Putin for it.

Russia has been India's largest weapons provider for decades and New Delhi and Moscow have had close ties since Soviet times.

The West, especially the US, has been seeking to strengthen ties with India as a potential counterweight to an ascendant China in the region.

But New Delhi and the West have taken differing stances on Russia's war in Ukraine.

The US State Department said on Monday it had raised concerns with India about its relationship with Russia.

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

Another report adds: Russia has promised to discharge Indians who were falsely induced to join its army, an issue Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised at talks with President Vladimir Putin, an Indian official said on Tuesday.

New Delhi has been seeking the release of its nationals whose families say they were lured to Russia by the promise of "support jobs" in the army, and were later forced into active combat in Ukraine.

"The Prime Minister strongly raised the issue of early discharge of Indian nationals who have been misled into the service of the Russian army," Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra told reporters in Moscow as Modi wrapped up a two-day visit.

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