Sources have reported that there are “scheduling issues” preventing Prime Minister Narendra Modi from attending this year’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The decision comes amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, in which India has sought to maintain a diplomatic balance between the two countries.
In the strategic partnership between the Indian Prime Minister and the Russian President, the annual summit represents the highest level of institutionalized dialogue.
There have been 21 annual summits held alternately in India and Russia so far. New Delhi hosted the last summit on December 6, 2021.
Although the annual summits have been held since 2000, the in-person summit could not be held in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.
Summits usually occur within a calendar year, and since 2022 is almost at its end, there will also be no in-person summit this year.
During the SCO Summit, Putin and Modi had previously met on September 16 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Modi had told Putin at that time that this is not an era for war, which was also reflected in the recent G20 declaration issued in Bali.
A few days ago, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told Parliament: “The Prime Minister expressed the sentiment of the global community when he declared that this was not an era of war. This statement was made in the context of the Ukraine conflict, where we have consistently and persistently advocated dialogue and diplomacy. There is also a wider resonance associated with it. In addition, we have extended our support with regards to specific concerns, such as the supply of food grains and fertilizers and the security of nuclear facilities. The international community has recognized the importance of our position, which is reflected in the Bali Declaration of the G20.”
The two leaders have maintained contact via telephone conversations, according to sources. Four telephone conversations have been between them since February 24 of this year.
Even though India has not explicitly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has called for an international investigation into the Bucha massacre and expressed concern over the nuclear threats made by the Russian government.
Likewise, India has taken a nuanced position at the UN Security Council and has abstained from voting against Russia in several resolutions since February 24. Indian diplomats’ tightrope walk has been tested by this situation, according to sources.
The Russian leadership has expressed its appreciation for Delhi’s continued efforts to buy oil at discounted prices despite being pressured from the West to condemn Moscow’s actions. Additionally, 70 to 80 percent of India’s defence supplies are procured from Russia, and this dependence has faced some challenges in the wake of the war.