Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the South Asian nation is “keen” to strengthen its partnership with Russia after New Delhi defied western sanctions against Moscow.
Mr Modi made the remarks during a virtual plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum, a key international conference held each year in Vladivostok, Russia, to encourage and strengthen ties with global investment communities in the Russian Far East.
“India is keen to strengthen its partnership with Russia on Arctic issues. There is also immense potential for co-operation in the field of energy,” Mr Modi said.
He also highlighted India's significant investments in the Russian Far East in the areas of pharma and diamonds.
Mr Modi said that the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor or the Northern Sea Route was significant and would play an important role in the development of India-Russia relations.
India is funding the corridor, the ambitious sea route that aims to improve trade between the two countries and India’s presence in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea, which is key to Beijing's security against the US.
Mr Modi’s comments on strengthening the Russian economy come at a time when the country is facing sanctions from the West over its military offensive in Ukraine that began on February 24.
New Delhi and Moscow are old allies and India calls it a “time-tested friend”.
India has consistently refused to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and repeatedly abstained from voting on western-backed resolutions at the UN.
New Delhi has increased the amount of oil it imports from Russia after western nations banned fuel deals with Moscow.
Mr Modi repeated the need for “peaceful efforts” to end the conflict.
“Since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, we have stressed the need to take the path of diplomacy and dialogue,” he said.
However, he expressed concern over how the war has disrupted supply chains, leading shortages of food, fertilisers and fuels globally.
“Shortages of food grains, fertilisers and fuels are a major concern for developing countries. In this regard, we also welcome the recent agreement [between Russia and Ukraine] concerning the safe export of cereals and fertilisers,” he said.
Mr Putin and Mr Modi could meet the on sidelines of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation meeting in Uzbekistan, scheduled for September 15 to September 16.