India's Modi assails Putin over Ukraine war

Leaders spoke at Shanghai Co-operation Organisation meeting in Uzbekistan on Friday

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Friday that it was “not the time for war” in remarks that appeared to further isolate the Russian leader over the damaging seven-month conflict in Ukraine.

The pair spoke during the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) summit, where the Russian leader also met Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“I know that today's era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this,” Mr Modi told Mr Putin during a televised meeting in the Uzbek city of Samarkand.

The Indian leader spoke after Mr Putin acknowledged tension over the issue.

“I know your stance on the conflict in Ukraine and the concerns you constantly express,” Mr Putin said. “We’ll do everything to end this as soon as possible.”

Mr Putin told Mr Modi he was committed to ending the fighting and accused the Ukrainian leadership of not wanting to negotiate a peace deal.

Kyiv has said it is willing to talk only after Moscow pulls its troops back to pre-invasion positions, with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying he will never accept a “peace” that allows Russia to keep Ukrainian land.

Mr Putin told Mr Xi on Thursday that he understood the Chinese leader had concerns about the situation in Ukraine but praised Beijing for maintaining a “balanced” position on the conflict.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has added pressure on the Russia leader over the conflict in Ukraine. Reuters

While China has provided Russia with diplomatic support since the war began and accused the US of provoking Mr Putin to action by pushing to expand Nato, it has avoided sending military support or breaching US sanctions.

India, which relies on Russia for both energy and arms, has tried to balance those ties as New Delhi comes under increasing US pressure to limit its ties to Moscow.

The war in Ukraine, triggered when Mr Putin ordered troops to invade on February 24, has killed tens of thousands of soldiers, touched off the worst confrontation with the West since the Cold War and sent the global economy into an inflationary spiral.

India has become Russia's number two oil buyer after China, as other countries have cut purchases following the invasion.

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Updated: September 16, 2022, 7:50 PM