Putin tells Modi he'll 'stop' the Ukraine invasion he ordered 'as soon as possible' after the Indian leader criticized Russia's war to his face

Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 16, 2022.Sergey Bobylev/Reuters
  • Modi explicitly criticized Russia's war in Ukraine while meeting with Putin on Friday.

  • "Today's era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this," Modi said.

  • "I know about your concerns. We want all of this to end as soon as possible," Putin told Modi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday criticized Russia's war in Ukraine while meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin face-to-face while both were in Uzbekistan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.

"I know that today's era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this," Modi told Putin, according to Reuters.

Putin told the Indian leader, "I know about your position on the conflict in Ukraine, and I know about your concerns. We want all of this to end as soon as possible."

The Russian president's remarks to his Indian counterpart echoed comments on Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine that he made to Chinese leader Xi Jinping the day prior. "We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis," Putin said to Xi at the summit in Uzbekistan.

"We understand your questions and concerns in this regard," Putin added. "During today's meeting, of course, we will explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have spoken about this before."

China and India have close ties with Moscow — and have continued to buy its oil, gas and coal as Western nations moved to cut their purchases — but foreign policy experts and Russia watchers say that the war in Ukraine appears to be driving a major wedge in relations.

"Having been thrashed on battlefield, Putin is getting thrashed at conference table, too. Doesn't take much clairvoyance to see that Xi, Modi, and others are deeply annoyed by fallout from Russia's war in Ukraine. Stunning erosion of Russia's — and Putin's — diplomatic position," Hal Brands, a professor of global affairs at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, said in a tweet.

"Nobody likes losers, and he's losing now in Ukraine," Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, said in an appearance on MSNBC on Thursday.

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Putin's phrase, "as soon as possible," could merely be rhetoric to placate a trade partner. Putin has tried to justify the invasion as a war of necessity, and has alluded to it as a conquest of territory that is rightfully Russian amid fitful attempts at a diplomatic resolution that Western diplomats have viewed as window dressing. Inside Russia, authorities are accosting those who protest or even describe the effort as a war — Putin made it illegal to spread "fake news" about the military — despite a casualty toll the US estimates to be as high as 80,000 troops.

Russia has suffered devastating troop losses in Ukraine, and its forces were recently pushed into retreat as a result of a blistering Ukrainian counteroffensive in the country's east, and as a wider effort to recapture territory in the south gains momentum. Meanwhile, Russia has been widely accused of war crimes, as it faces crippling economic sanctions over the war. The war has led to an energy crisis and contributed to rising inflation worldwide.

"I think what you're hearing from China, from India, is reflective of concerns around the world about the effects of Russia's aggression on Ukraine, not just on the people of Ukraine," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Friday, per Al Jazeera, adding, "I think it increases the pressure on Russia to end the aggression."

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