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Click Here for Japanese Translation India's Modi hugs Putin on first Russia visit since Ukraine offensive

India's Modi hugs Putin on first Russia visit since Ukraine offensive

モディ印首相、プーチン大統領と熱烈ハグ 5年ぶりにロシア訪問

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew into Moscow on Monday and warmly hugged President Vladimir Putin on a visit that treads a fine line between maintaining a longstanding relationship with Moscow and courting closer Western security ties.
The visit is Modi's first since Russia launched its campaign in Ukraine and since he was returned to power last month as leader of the world's most populous country.
After meeting Moscow's Indian community, Modi had an informal meeting with Putin at his residence at Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow, where the leaders drank tea on a terrace, rode in a golf cart together and visited stables.
The Indian leader told Putin it was a moment of joy to visit and thanked him for planning that we chit-chat here this evening.
Looking forward to our talks tomorrow as well, which will surely go a long way in further cementing the bonds of friendship between India and Russia, Modi later wrote on X, posting a photo of the leaders hugging.
Moscow remains a key supplier of cut-price oil and weapons to India, but the Kremlin's isolation from the West and blooming friendship with Beijing have impacted its time-honoured partnership with New Delhi.
Western powers have in recent years also cultivated ties with India as a bulwark against China and its growing influence in the Asia-Pacific, while pressuring it to distance itself from Russia.
Modi last visited Russia in 2019 and hosted Putin in New Delhi two years later, weeks before Russia began its offensive against Ukraine.
India has shied away from explicit condemnation of Russia ever since and has abstained on United Nations resolutions censuring Moscow.
But Russia's fight with Ukraine has also had a human cost for India.
New Delhi said in February that it was pushing the Kremlin to send back some of its citizens who had signed up for support jobs with the Russian military, following reports some were killed after being forced to fight in Ukraine.
The United States on Monday urged Modi to make clear in his talks with Putin that any resolution to the conflict in Ukraine must... be one that respects the UN Charter with respect to Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Moscow's deepening ties with China have also been a cause for concern.
Washington and the European Union accuse China of selling components and equipment that have strengthened Russia's military industry -- allegations that Beijing denies.
China and India are intense rivals competing for strategic influence across South Asia.
India is part of the so-called Quad grouping with the US, Japan and Australia that positions itself against China's growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Oil and arms -
New Delhi and the Kremlin have maintained a close relationship since the Cold War, and Russia was for a long time India's largest arms supplier.
But Ukraine has stretched Russia's arms supplies thin, forcing India to eye other sources for weapons -- including by growing its own defence industry.
Russia's share of Indian imports of arms has shrunk considerably in recent years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
At the same time, India has become a major buyer of Russian oil, providing a much-needed export market for Moscow after it was cut off from traditional buyers in Europe.
That has drastically reshaped energy ties, with India saving itself billions of dollars while bolstering Moscow's war coffers.
India's month-on-month imports of Russian crude increased by eight percent in May, to the highest levels since July 2023, according to commodity tracking data compiled by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
But this has also resulted in India's trade deficit with Russia rising to a little over $57 billion in the past financial year.
From Russia, Modi will travel to Vienna for the first visit to the Austrian capital by an Indian leader since Indira Gandhi in 1983.

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