Putin vows to boost ties with India amid turmoil

The Asian Age.  | Sridhar Kumaraswami

World, Europe

Invites Modi to Russia amid US concerns on Pannun case

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, speaks to India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, second left, during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. ( AP/PTI)

NEW DELHI: In a late Wednesday evening meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured external affairs minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar that India-Russia ties continue to progress steadily despite global turbulence.

Putin, highlighting the enduring nature of their relations, pledged to maintain traditional ties irrespective of the government in power in New Delhi after the upcoming Indian general elections. The diplomatic engagements between India and Russia come at a time when relations between India and the US have become complicated due to the Pannun case, involving pro-Khalistan elements.

The US has expressed concerns about an alleged plot to kill proKhalistan extremist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, further contributing to the complexities in the India-US relationship.

During the meeting, President Putin invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Russia next year. “We will be happy to see our friend, Prime Minister Modi in Russia. We will have an opportunity to discuss the current issues and talk about the prospects for developing Russian-Indian relations. We have to cover a lot of ground. So I would like to ask you to convey to him my best wishes and please, give him our invitation we are looking forward to seeing him in Russia. That said, I realise that next year, India’s domestic political calendar is not simple. It is complicated considering that India will hold general elections to parliament. We wish success to our friends in India. We believe we will maintain our traditional friendly ties in any alignment of political forces,” Putin said.

Jaishankar handed President Putin a letter from Modi, detailing the advancements in bilateral ties. The external affairs minister also conveyed Modi’s anticipation of visiting Russia in the coming year, at a mutually convenient date. Putin acknowledged Modi’s efforts in resolving the Ukraine conflict through peaceful means and promised to provide additional information to India about the situation.

The details of the meeting were released in the early hours of Thursday.

In a statement released by the Kremlin, President Putin expressed his happiness at the growing trade ties between India and Russia, which have surpassed $50 billion annually. He highlighted the substantial growth in trade, particularly in energy resources, high-tech areas, and stressed on the resilience of relations with traditional friends in Asia, particularly India.

Jaishankar, in a social media post, stated, “Honoured to call on President Vladimir Putin. Conveyed the warm greetings of PM Narendra Modi and handed over a personal message.”

He further appreciated President Putin’s guidance on the development of bilateral ties.

During the meeting, Jaishankar provided updates on the progress made in recent days, discussed trade developments exceeding $50 billion, and highlighted the nuclear cooperation, with agreements signed for the Kudankulam project.