Will Modi’s soft power diplomacy be an antidote to Russia–Ukraine War?

- colombogazette.com

Imran Khan lauds India’s foreign policy and the stand taken for the benefit of the people.

“There are two kinds of people in life: those who like India and those who do not.” Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan obviously falls into the first category of people.

Khan has often expressed his admiration for India’s culture, food, and people. He has also been a vocal supporter of increased trade and diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan.

On several occasions, Khan has lauded India’s untainted foreign policy, with special emphasis on Prime Minister Modi’s stance on global politics.

In October last year, he said that India was able to import oil from Russia at its own will while Pakistan has become a virtual slave to the West as his country was unable to take fearless and upright decisions for the welfare of its people.

Imran Khan, who is leading a long march in Pakistan to force early elections in the country, has time and again praised India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing his “long march” virtually recently, Khan, the chairperson of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said that India’s foreign policy is free and independent. Khan may be advocating a policy similar to that of India for Pakistan as well, to keep its head above the pressures exerted by the West.

Lauding the Modi government’s decision to purchase Russian oil in line with its national interests even in the face of pressure from the West amid the Ukraine war, Imran Khan said that India and the United States were QUAD allies but India still decided to purchase oil from Russia in the interest of its citizens.

The United States did not find fault with India or react negatively since India is its ally when it comes to confronting China’s bigger problem. The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in a lukewarm response, had said that India could buy as much Russian oil as it wants to, including at prices above a G7-imposed price cap mechanism, if it steered clear of Western insurance, finance, and maritime services bound by the cap. Reuters said.

The US would welcome any effort that could lead to an end of hostilities in Ukraine, White House spokesperson John Kirby said in the meantime on a question asked on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in stopping the Russia-Ukraine war.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Vladimir Putin this is not the era of war on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand in September 2022.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Vladimir Putin this is not the ear of war on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in September 2022.

The United States welcomes any effort to stop the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on a specific question asked about whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi can mediate and stop the war. Kirby was asked if there is still time for PM Modi to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war. “I think there’s still time for Putin to stop the war.” I think there’s still time for it. PM Modi can convince; I will let PM Modi speak to whatever efforts he’s willing to undertake. “The US would welcome any effort that could lead to an end of hostilities in Ukraine,” John Kirby said.

“We think the war could end today…should end today,” the White House spokesperson said.

The statement came as National Security Adviser to PM Modi, Ajit Doval, held an hour-long one-on-one discussion with Putin.

The meeting took place exactly a fortnight before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine completed a year, on February 24th.

During the crucial meeting held in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval agreed to continue working towards implementing the India-Russia strategic partnership.

The Indian embassy in Moscow, in a Twitter message, said, “NSA Ajit Doval called on HE President Putin.” They had a wide-ranging discussion on bilateral and regional issues. agreed to continue working towards implementing the India-Russia strategic partnership.

In the meeting, Doval said no country should be allowed to use Afghan territory to export terrorism and asserted that India will never abandon the people of Afghanistan in their time of need.

“We are well aware of this, and we realize this perfectly well, but this does not reduce the significance of the situation in Afghanistan.” “This has always been important for us, and now it is more important than ever because we do not want more points of tension on our southern borders,”

“Unfortunately, since the American armed forces fled Afghanistan, the situation has not improved. International terrorist organizations are stepping up their activities, including al-Qaeda, which is building up its potential,” Putin said.

“We are also worried about attempts to use the situation in Afghanistan to allow extra-regional forces to expand or build their infrastructure.” “These countries will create this under the pretext of countering international terrorism, but they are not doing anything that is really necessary in the real counterterrorism struggle,” he told the NSAs.

“Obviously, the situation in the country is not improving, and we see this. The humanitarian situation is worsening. Millions of people – about 4 million people according to our information – are in need of urgent humanitarian aid. Drug trafficking is on the rise, and unfortunately, the fields are growing, too. “I think 80 per cent of opiates on the world market are from Afghanistan,” he said.

“The situation is very complicated, but we are doing all we can to find solutions.” We have contacted the country’s leaders in Kabul. “We know there are plans to implement large economic projects that could stabilize the situation in the economy,” Putin said.

“Nevertheless, it goes without saying that it is very important for me to listen to your position, your viewpoint, because you are exactly the people that are professionally dealing with such issues, including Afghanistan,” he said.

In his address at the multilateral meeting on Afghanistan, Doval said that no country should be allowed to use Afghan territory to export terrorism. India, he said, will never abandon the people of Afghanistan in their time of need.

Besides Russia and India, the meeting was attended by representatives from Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The National Security Advisors’ visit to Russia came three months after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar travelled to the country in November, during which the two sides vowed to expand their economic engagement, including India’s import of petroleum products from its “time-tested” partner.

Doval’s visit to Moscow also took place ahead of the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to travel to India to attend the meeting on March 1–2.

Last December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a conversation with Putin on the telephone and discussed the situation in Ukraine and the bilateral relationship. This was their fifth phone conversation since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Modi and Putin met on the sidelines of the SCO Summit on September 16 last year in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Modi had told Putin that this is “not an era of war”—this was also reflected in the Bali Declaration of the G20.

Meanwhile, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said, “The single person responsible for what the Ukrainian people are going through is Vladimir Putin, and he could stop it right now.” “Instead, he’s firing cruise missiles into energy and power infrastructure and trying to knock out the lights and knock out the heat so the Ukrainian people suffer even more than they already have,” Kirby said.

“So that when President Zelensky determines it’s time to negotiate, and he’s the only one that can make that determination, he can do it with the strongest hand possible,” he added.

Since the Russia-Ukraine war began almost a year ago, PM Modi spoke to both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin on several occasions. Though India continues its trade ties with Russia, PM Modi nudged Putin publicly at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in September 2022 as he said today’s era is not of war. “I know today’s era is not [an era of war]. “We discussed this issue with you on the phone several times—that democracy, diplomacy, and dialogue touch the entire world,” PM Modi said to Putin.

In October 2022, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said India was asked to mediate when fighting between Russia and Ukraine near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant increased. “At this point in time, conflict is still hot and passions are still high.” It’s not easy for people to readily listen to voices of reason. “But I can say with objectivity that if we take our position if we voice our views, I don’t think countries would disregard that,” Jaishankar said.

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