As Modi hails 'dear friend Putin' during Russia visit, Ukraine's Zelenskyy is outraged: 'Blow to peace'

Modi's visit also coincides with the NATO Summit being held in Washington

Untitled design - 1 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace during an informal meeting at Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow. (Right) Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelenskyy | AP

Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelenskyy has expressed his anger at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Russia visit, calling it a blow to peace efforts. Zelenskyy's statement comes as the Prime Minister, while addressing the Indian diaspora in Moscow, hailed India's friendship with Russia and addressed Putin as "dear friend".

"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," he added.

However, the visit and camaraderie did not impress the Ukrainian President who took to X to lash out at the visit. "It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day," Zelenskyy said in a post on X on Monday, referring to the deadly Russian attacks on a Ukrainian hospital.

This comes as Indian sources stressed that the country has consistently maintained that dialogue and diplomacy was the way forward to resolve the Ukraine conflict as a solution can't be found on the battlefield. This was in response to the US reaction to Modi's visit. The US said on Monday that it would urge India, as we do any country when it engages with Russia, to make clear that any resolution to the conflict in Ukraine needs to respect the UN charter, Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Modi who met Putin at his official residence for an informal chat referred to Russia as India's "all-weather friend" and hailed President Vladimir Putin's leadership in strengthening the bilateral relationship over the past two decades.

"On hearing the word Russia, the first word that comes to mind of every Indian is India's all-weather friend (sukh-dukh ka saathi) and a trusted ally, Modi said. "No matter how low the temperature dips below minus during Russian winter, India-Russia friendship has always remained in 'plus', it is full of warmth. This relationship is built on the strong foundation of mutual trust and mutual respect," the Prime Minister said.

Interestingly, Modi's Russia visit comes at a time when a NATO summit is being held in Washington which is expected to deliberate on the Ukraine war. However, a senior 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. 

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