Solution to Ukraine conflict not possible on battlefield: PM Modi to Putin

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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 talks do not succeed amidst bombs, guns and bullets.

In his televised opening remarks at summit talks with Putin in the Kremlin, Modi, in an apparent reference to the bombing of a children's hospital in Ukraine, said the death of innocent children is heart-wrenching and very painful.

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 a bright future of the new generation, peace is most essential. A solution is not possible on the battlefield..Peace talks do not succeed amidst bombs, guns and bullets," he said.

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

In his remarks, the prime minister made a veiled reference to the bombing of a children's hospital in Ukraine on Monday.

"Everyone believing in humanity is pained if there is loss of lives. In that too, if innocent children are murdered; if innocent children die, it is heart-wrenching and very painful," Modi said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr 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 also referred to his informal meeting with Putin on Monday night 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 forms of terrorism, Modi said.

After the summit, Modi 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. PTI MPB ZH AKJ AKJ

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