Image Source : PTI (FILE) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Moscow: India and Russia are in full preparations as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Russia in July, Russian media quoted a Kremlin aide as saying on Tuesday, after he was invited by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year. The Russian state news agency RIA quoted a diplomatic source as saying that PM Modi may visit Russia in July.

The Kremlin said in March that Modi had an open invitation to come to Russia and that a meeting with Putin would take place. Notably, Putin met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar last year in Moscow, where he extended an invitation to PM Modi to visit Russia in 2024. “We will be glad to see our friend, Mr Prime Minister Modi in Russia,” Putin told Jaishankar. 

If PM Modi travels to Russia, then he and President Vladimir Putin are set to hold the India-Russia annual summit after a gap of three years. The annual summit between the prime minister of India and the president of Russia is the highest institutional dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between the two countries. This would also be PM Modi’s first visit to Russia in five years.

“We will be able to discuss all current issues, talk about the outlook for the development of Russian-Indian relations. We have a very large amount of work to do,” the Russian President further said. He asked the Indian external affairs minister to pass his “best wishes” to PM Modi along with the invitation. Jaishankar also said that he was confident that Prime Minister Modi and President Putin will meet for an annual summit this year, noting that both leaders have remained in frequent contact throughout this year. 

The two leaders share cordial relations and Putin has expressed his appreciation of PM Modi several times in the past. Earlier this month, Putin said that he was “surprised” by PM Modi’s tough stance on defending the national security interests of India and he “cannot imagine that Modi could be frightened” to take any step contrary to the interests of India and its people.

“I want to say that relations between Russia and India are developing progressively along all trajectories, and the main guarantor of this is the policy pursued by the prime minister, Mr Modi,” the Russian leader said at the “Russia Calling!” Forum on December 7, 2023. Prior to that, Putin called Modi “a very wise man” under whom New Delhi has been making great strides in development”.

The ties between India and Russia remained strong notwithstanding Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue. India has continued to rely on Russian exports in oil and defence despite Western pressure over Ukraine.

PM Modi likely to skip SCO Summit

Meanwhile, multiple reports have speculated that PM Modi is expected to skip the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit scheduled in Kazakhstan next month, while the first parliamentary session of the new Lok Sabha is currently underway. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is expected to represent India at the summit where Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif are likely to attend.

Last year, India virtually hosted the SCO Summit, where External Affairs Minister Jaishankar expressed concern over terrorism in the presence of then-Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto. Putin also thanked PM Modi for organising the summit and supported the New Delhi declaration on mutual cooperation to deal with terrorism, extremism and drug-trafficking.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was formed by China in 2001. Its members include India, Russia, China, Pakistan, and four central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

India was made an observer at the SCO in 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping, which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region. The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.

(with inputs from agencies)

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