Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held in-person talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the first time after Russia invaded Ukraine 15 months back and conveyed to him that India will do whatever is possible to find a solution to the conflict.
In the meeting that took place on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, the prime minister said that the war in Ukraine is a “very big issue” for the whole world and that it has had many different impacts on the globe.
“I wish to assure you that India and I, in my personal capacity, will do whatever is possible to find a solution to this (conflict),” Modi said in his opening remarks at the talks.
The prime minister told the Ukrainian leader that he does not see the conflict as a political or economic issue and that for him, it is an issue of humanity and human values.
Since the Ukraine conflict began in February last year, Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Zelenskyy a number of times during which he insisted that the conflict should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.
“Over the past one-and-half years, we have spoken on the phone but … after a long time, we have an opportunity to meet. The war in Ukraine is a very big issue for the whole world. It has had many different impacts on the whole world,” Modi said.
“But I don’t see this as a political or economic issue, for me this is an issue of humanity, an issue of human values,” he said.
“You know more than any of us what is the suffering of war but when our students came back from Ukraine last year, the description of the circumstances they gave then, I could understand the pain felt by you and Ukrainian citizens,” Modi said.
India evacuated thousands of students from Ukraine following the Russian invasion that began on February 24 last year.
The meeting between Modi and Zelenskyy came a day after leaders of the G7 countries resolved to stand against Russia’s “illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine and unveiled new sanctions on Moscow.
It is not immediately known what the Ukrainian president said at the talks. However, it is widely believed that Zelenskyy sought India’s support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
The Ukrainian president has been trying to drum up support from key countries around the world as Ukrainian forces are preparing a major counteroffensive against Russia.
The Indian delegation at the talks included External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
The Modi-Zelenskyy meeting took place over a month after Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova visited India.
During her visit, Dzhaparova handed over a letter to the Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi. The letter was written to Prime Minister Modi by President Zelenskyy.
In a phone conversation with President Zelenskyy on October 4 last year, Modi said that there can be “no military solution” and that India is ready to contribute to any peace efforts.
At a bilateral meeting with Russian President Putin on September 16 last year in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, Modi said, “Today’s era is not of war” and nudged the Russian leader to end the conflict.
India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
In New Delhi, Dzhaparova had said that India is a global leader and can help in addressing key global challenges and promoting peace including in her country.
The prime minister arrived in Hiroshima on Friday to attend the annual summit of the G7 grouping in the first leg of his three-nation tour that will also take him to Papua New Guinea and Australia.
The Ukrainian president is also attending the G7 summit following an invitation by Japan, the current chair of the powerful grouping.
The group of seven, comprising the US, France, the UK, Italy, Germany, Canada and Japan, represent the world’s richest democracies. Under its G7 presidency, Japan invited India and seven other countries to the summit as guests.