Divergent on Russia and convergent on Indo Pacific
PM Modi calls Bucha killings “very worrying”
Biden appreciated Indian humanitarian assistance to Ukraine
Washington DC: Welcoming India’s humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine and calling the Russian invasion a “horrific assault”, US President Joe Biden Monday said the US and India are going to continue “close consultation on how to manage the destabilizing effects of this Russian war”. Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended their session with Biden saying they committed to strengthening their relationship.
In his virtual meeting with Biden ahead of the 2+2 talks between their Defense and Foreign Ministers, PM Modi, who did not name Russia, called the “killings of innocent civilians” in Ukraine’s Bucha city “very worrying”, and said India immediately condemned the killings and called for an independent probe.
This is the first time that PM Modi has spoken on the Bucha killings — External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and T S Tirumurti, India’s envoy at the UN have condemned it unequivocally in recent days.
Although there were marked differences between their strategic positions since Russia’s invasion, the summit meeting served as an opportunity to emphasize areas where they shared a similar view, most notably in their condemnation of violence against civilians in Ukrainian cities.
Biden tried to lobby for India’s support during the virtual summit with PM Modi, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with their Indian counterparts for a 2+2 summit in Washington the next day.
In their public comments, Biden and Modi spoke about friendship and shared values. But a White House official said afterward that during their private meeting, Biden asked Modi not to accelerate purchases of Russian oil. India listened and made no promises. “I suspect, looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon,” S Jaishankar said at a State Department news conference.
Moscow remains New Delhi’s largest supplier for defense imports, and the unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. for trade with Russian entities could impact India’s procurement plans unless there is an unambiguous waiver granted for the same.
Beyond the specific sectors such as public health, space, and technology cooperation, territorial, maritime, and cyber security, and the climate crisis, where India-U.S. cooperation has the potential to improve the lives of millions, one of the highest priorities of the Modi-Biden summit was to ensure that there is no further erosion of the rules-based international order as it applies to the Indo-Pacific.