Modi-Putin Embrace Highlights Failure to Isolate Russia


Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow yesterday.

For Washington, isolating Vladimir Putin just keeps getting harder.

As leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization gather in the US capital in the hope of projecting a united front against Russia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Moscow hugging Putin.

Modi’s trip follows Russia’s hosting of foreign ministers from the expanding BRICS grouping, and comes barely a week after Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Kazakhstan, hailing their countries’ relationship as in the “best period in history.”

Russia’s embrace of China makes strategic sense given that both have emerged as Washington’s top two rivals, with trade booming since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

India’s relationship with Russia is arguably a more bitter pill for Washington to swallow.

US diplomats have expended great effort in cultivating India as a bulwark against China. They have steered investment flows, encouraged technology sharing and boosted defense cooperation with New Delhi.

Modi’s visit on the same day that Russia destroyed Ukraine’s main children’s hospital is all the more galling for the US and its allies, not least Kyiv: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy blasted the trip.

Part of the reason for Washington’s inability to peel India away is historical — New Delhi’s close ties with Russia stretch back to the Cold War and India’s membership of the non-aligned movement.

But it also has much to gain in the here and now: India is a major buyer of Russian oil and weapons, and sources say it’s seeking a long-term supply of uranium for a nuclear power plant.

The US has made clear its concerns. State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller yesterday urged India to raise Ukraine’s territorial integrity with Russia.

It’s unclear if Modi has done so.

Even if he did, Washington seems powerless to prise what Miller called a “strategic partner” away from the Kremlin.

source : bloomberg

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