Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday discussed the state of global energy and food markets in the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, and also ways to further encourage bilateral trade in agricultural goods, fertilisers and pharma products.
In the telephonic conversation, Modi reiterated India’s long-standing position on the situation in Ukraine and favoured dialogue and diplomacy to resolve it, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The Kremlin said Putin stressed that Russia ”has been and remains” a reliable producer and supplier of grain, fertilisers and energy including to the Indian partners and that the leaders expressed mutual intention for ”comprehensive strengthening” of the special and privileged strategic ties between the two sides.
It said leaders discussed ”topical” issues relating to bilateral relations, paying ”special attention to the further development of mutually beneficial ties in the economic sphere.” The comments came amid sharp rise in India’s oil imports from Russia in the last few months notwithstanding some disquiet in the West on the procurement.
”The two leaders reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken during President Putin’s visit to India in December 2021. In particular, they exchanged ideas on how bilateral trade in agricultural goods, fertilizers and pharma products could be encouraged further,” the PMO said in a statement.
It said the leaders also discussed global issues, including the state of the international energy and food markets.
”In the context of the ongoing situation in Ukraine, the Prime Minister reiterated India’s long-standing position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy. The leaders agreed to maintain regular consultations on global and bilateral issues,” the PMO said.
It was the fourth telephonic conversation between Modi and Putin this year. Earlier, the two leaders held phone talks on February 24, March 2 and March 7.
”As agreed during the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) summit on June 23–24, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi,” the Kremlin said in a press statement.
The statement said a ”significant increase” in the volume of bilateral trade, including mutual deliveries of agricultural products, was noted with ”satisfaction”.
”They expressed mutual intention for the comprehensive strengthening of the special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India,” the Kremlin statement said.
The statement said the current state of affairs in the global food market was touched upon in the talks.
”Vladimir Putin drew attention to the systemic mistakes made by a number of states, which led to the disruption of the entire architecture of the free trade of food products and provoked a significant increase of their cost,” it added.
The Kremlin said ”illegitimate sanctions” against Russia have exacerbated an already difficult situation and that the same factors had a negative impact on the global energy market.
”At the same time, the Russian leader stressed that Russia has been and remains a reliable producer and supplier of grain, fertilizers and energy carriers, including to the Indian partners,” it added.
The Western powers have imposed crippling economic sanctions against Russia for its attack on Ukraine. The European nations are also gradually bringing down their energy purchases from Russia. Ukraine is a major producer of wheat and the halt in its exports of the staple food has triggered its shortage globally.
”At the request of Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin briefed on the key aspects of the Russian special military operation, emphasising the dangerous and provocative nature of the line of the Kyiv regime and its Western patrons aimed at escalating the crisis and disrupt efforts to resolve it politically and diplomatically,” the Kremlin statement said.
India has been maintaining that the crisis in Ukraine must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue. India’s crude oil imports from Russia have jumped over 50 times since April and now make up for 10 per cent of all crude bought from overseas, a senior government official said last week.
Russian oil made up for just 0.2 per cent of all oil imported by India prior to the Ukraine war. India has been maintaining that its crude oil import is purely determined by the country’s energy security considerations, noting that it is one of the key aspects in terms of the country’s national economic interests.
The conversation came days after Modi attended the G7 summit in Germany. In an apparent reference to the Ukraine crisis, he had noted that the G7 and those invited for the summit were meeting amid an atmosphere of global tension and asserted that India has always been in favour of peace.
”Even in the present situation, we have constantly urged for the path of dialogue and diplomacy. The impact of this geopolitical tension is not just limited to Europe. The rising prices of energy and food grains are affecting all the countries,” he had said in his remarks at a G7 summit session.