'Heart simply explodes': PM Modi flags concerns with Putin over missile strike on children's hospital in Kyiv

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

Moscow, Jul 9 (PTI) Delivering an unambiguous message, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday told Russian President Vladimir Putin that a solution to the Ukraine conflict is not possible on the battlefield and peace efforts do not succeed in the midst of bombs and bullets even as he flagged concerns over a missile strike on a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

In his televised opening remarks at summit talks with Putin in the Kremlin, Modi said the killing of innocent children is heart-wrenching and very painful, a day after a suspected Russian missile struck a children's hospital in Kyiv triggered global outrage.

"Let's take war, any conflict or terrorist acts: any person who believes in humanity feels pain when people die, and especially when innocent children die. When we feel such pain, the heart simply explodes, and I had the opportunity to talk about these issues with you yesterday," Modi told Putin.

The prime minister held extensive discussions with Putin during a private meeting at the Russian leader's residence on Monday evening.

The Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital in Kyiv was hit after Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles on cities across Ukraine. At least 38 people were killed including two in the hospital in the strikes.

The Indian prime minister's remarks that appeared to be critical of Russia came hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticised the Indian prime minister for hugging Putin.

Modi began his two-day visit to Russia on Monday for the 22nd India-Russia annual summit that has been watched closely by the West in view of the Ukraine conflict.

In his remarks, Modi said dialogue and diplomacy is the only way to find a solution to the Ukraine conflict and India is ready to make all possible contributions in resolving the crisis.

"For a bright future of the future generations, peace is most essential. No solution is possible on the battlefield.  Solutions and peace talks are not successful in the midst of bombs, guns and bullets and we have to find the path to peace through dialogue," he said.

At a media briefing, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said Modi was "very clear and categorical" in expressing his "concern and regret" at the loss of innocent lives, especially at the children's hospital yesterday.

"With regard to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, yes, this featured in discussions between the two leaders, both at the private discussions at dinner yesterday and in talks today," he said.

A joint statement said the two sides highlighted the imperative of a peaceful resolution of the conflict around Ukraine through dialogue and diplomacy including engagement between both parties.

"They noted with appreciation relevant proposals of mediation and good offices aimed at peaceful resolution of the conflict in accordance with international law and on the basis of the UN Charter in its entirety and totality," it said.

Kwatra said Modi clearly said that the solution to the conflict cannot be found on the battlefield and it is possible only through dialogue and diplomacy.

In his remarks, Modi also said that India is willing to offer all possible support, contributions and cooperation required to find a peaceful solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The Indian prime minister assured the world community that India is on the side of peace and the conflict must be resolved through talks.

"For restoration of peace, India is ready to cooperate in all possible ways," Modi said.

The prime minister said he was satisfied that Putin had put across his views very openly at the meeting on Monday and that many "interesting ideas" and a "new thinking" had emerged from it.

In his comments, Putin appreciated Modi's efforts to find ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

"I appreciate the attention you pay to the most pressing issues, including your efforts to find ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis, primarily through peaceful means," he said.

The 22nd India-Russia annual summit took place a day after Modi arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit that has been watched closely by the West in view of the Ukraine conflict.

"We would urge India, as we do any country when it engages with Russia, to make clear that any resolution to the conflict in Ukraine needs to be one that respects the UN charter, that respects Ukraine's territorial integrity, Ukraine's sovereignty," US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said in Washington ahead of Modi-Putin talks.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy took objection to the Indian leader hugging Putin.

"A Russian missile struck the largest children's hospital in Ukraine, targeting young cancer patients. Many were buried under the rubble," Zelenskyy said on 'X'.

"It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world's largest democracy hug the world's most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day," he said.

In his comments, Modi touched upon his informal meeting with Putin on Monday evening and said listening to the Russian president lent "hope".

At our meeting yesterday, we listened to each other's views on Ukraine and I also placed before you the Global South's expectation on peace and stability, Modi said.

The prime minister appreciated the India-Russia cooperation in averting food, fuel, and fertiliser shortages for Indians in the past few years.

When the world was facing a shortage of food, fuel and fertilisers, we did not allow our farmers to face any problem and our friendship with Russia played a role in that, Modi said.

We could insulate common citizens in India from difficulties in terms of availability of petrol and diesel because of your cooperation, he said, adding India wants its cooperation with Russia to expand further.

The prime minister also flagged concerns over the challenges of terrorism.

India has been facing the challenge of terrorism for around 40 years; I condemn all sorts of terrorism, Modi said.

After the summit, the prime minister described his discussions with Putin as "productive".

"Held productive discussions with President Putin at the Kremlin today. Our talks covered ways to diversify India-Russia cooperation in sectors such as trade, commerce, security, agriculture, technology and innovation," he said.

"We attach great importance to boosting connectivity and people-to-people exchanges," he added.

In his comments, Putin said trade between Russia and India grew by 66 per cent last year and added another 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2024.

Russia and India cooperate closely in the international arena, including within international institutions, primarily the UN and organisations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS, he said.  The joint statement said Modi and Putin unequivocally condemned terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations including the cross-border movement of terrorists.

"They strongly condemned the recent dastardly terrorist attack on an Army convoy in Kathua area of Jammu and Kashmir on July 8, in Dagestan on June 23 and on the Crocus City Hall in Moscow on March 22 and stressed that these terrorist attacks are a grim reminder for further strengthening cooperation to combat terrorism," it said.

It said the two sides called for an uncompromising fight against international terrorism and extremism in all their forms and manifestations, noting the importance of increasing cooperation in this area, without hidden agendas and double standards.

"Besides, they stressed the need for firm implementation of relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, as well as the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy," it said.

The statement said both sides emphasised the primary responsibility of States and their competent authorities in combating terrorism and that global efforts to prevent and counter terrorist threats must fully comply with their obligations under international law.

"They called for zero tolerance for terrorism and expeditious finalisation and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN framework as well as the implementation of the UNGA and the UNSC resolutions on countering terrorism and violent extremism, conducive to terrorism," it said. PTI MPB AKJ AKJ