Joe Biden says Quad leaders are 'navigating a dark hour'

US president calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine a global issue in dialogue with Indo-Pacific leaders

US President Joe Biden and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold a bilateral meeting alongside the Quad Summit at Kantei Palace in Tokyo, Japan. Reuters
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US President Joe Biden told his fellow Indo-Pacific leaders during a summit on Tuesday that they are “navigating a dark hour in our shared history” amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine and urged them to take more action against Moscow.

During a “Quad” summit in Tokyo with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia, Mr Biden said Russia's assault has “triggered a humanitarian catastrophe”.

The president accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to wipe out Ukrainian culture, deliberately attacking non-combatant buildings and blocking the global food supply.

“And this is more than just a European issue; it’s a global issue,” he said during remarks to his fellow Quad leaders.

“As long as Russia continues the war, the United States will work with our partners to help be the global response, because it’s going to affect all parts of the world.”

While the president did not directly name any countries, his message appeared to be pointed, at least in part, at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom differences persist over how to respond to the Russian invasion.

Unlike other Quad countries and nearly every other US ally, India has not imposed sanctions or even condemned Russia, its biggest supplier of military hardware.

In a one-on-one meeting, Mr Biden and Mr Modi discussed the situation in Ukraine, particularly in providing humanitarian assistance and co-operating to manage disruptions in rising energy and food prices as a result of the war, the White House said in a statement.

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is seen on a screen at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland May 23, 2022.  REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann

In comments to reporters after their meeting, Mr Biden said the US and India would continue to consult “on how to mitigate these negative effects”.

But a post-summit statement from the Quad leaders made no mention of Russia, instead only mentioning that they discussed their “respective responses to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing tragic humanitarian crisis, and assessed its implications for the Indo-Pacific”.

Mr Modi also did not mention Russia or the war in Ukraine during his remarks following his meeting with Mr Biden. India has previously condemned civilian deaths Ukraine and called for a ceasefire, but has also exacerbated pressures on global supply chains by banning wheat exports.

The White House has been effusive in its praise of several Pacific countries, including Japan, Singapore and South Korea, for stepping up to hit Russia with tough sanctions and export bans while offering humanitarian and military assistance to Kyiv.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, often referred to as the Quad, is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the United States.

The Quad summit came on the final day of the president's five-day visit to South Korea and Japan, his first visit to Asia as president.

On Monday, Mr Biden unveiled an Indo-Pacific pact that was designed to counter China's influence and the White House hailed the Indian Pacific Economic Framework as a major accomplishment.

The 13 nations involved in the pact make up 40 per cent of global gross domestic product, the White House said.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Updated: May 24, 2022, 3:20 PM