Peace efforts don’t succeed in midst of bombs, bullets: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being conferred with the ‘Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle’- Russia’s highest civilian award by President, Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday. (UNI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being conferred with the ‘Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle’- Russia’s highest civilian award by President, Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday. (UNI)

Modi receives Russia’s prestigious civilian honour

MOSCOW, July 9: 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 efforts do not succeed in the midst of bombs and bullets, even as he flagged concerns over a deadly missile strike on a children’s hospital in Kyiv.
In his televised opening remarks at summit talks with Putin in the Kremlin, Modi said the killing of innocent children is heart-wrenching and very painful, a day after a suspected Russian missile struck a children’s hospital in Kyiv triggering global outrage.
“Whether it is war, conflicts, terror attacks, everyone believing in humanity is deeply affected when there is a loss of lives. But even in that, when innocent children are killed, when we see innocent children dying, then it is heart-wrenching and that pain is very horrible,” Modi said.
The Indian Prime Minister’s remarks that appeared to be critical of Russia came hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticised the Indian Prime Minister for hugging Putin.
In his remarks, Modi also referred to his extensive discussions on the Ukraine conflict with Putin during a private meeting on Monday evening and said dialogue is the only way to find a solution.
“For a bright future for the future generations, peace is most essential. No solution is possible on the battlefield. Solutions and peace talks are not successful in the midst of bombs, guns and bullets and we have to find the path to peace through dialogue,” he said.
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 restoration of peace, India is ready to cooperate in all possible ways,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said he was satisfied that Putin had put across his views very openly at the meeting on Monday and that many “interesting ideas” and a “new thinking” had emerged from it.
In his comments, Putin appreciated Modi’s efforts to find ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis.
“I appreciate the attention you pay to the most pressing issues, including your efforts to find ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis, primarily through peaceful means,” he 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 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.
Ukrainian President 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 touched upon his informal meeting with Putin on Monday evening 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, 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 sorts of terrorism, Modi said.
After the summit, the Prime Minister 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.
In his comments, Putin said trade between Russia and India grew by 66 per cent last year and added another 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2024.
Russia and India cooperate closely in the international arena, including within international institutions, primarily the UN and organisations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS, he said.
Meanwhile, Modi was on Tuesday officially conferred the ‘Order of St Andrew the Apostle’ award by Russian President Vladimir Putin for his contribution to fostering bilateral ties between the two countries.
In a special ceremony in St. Andrew Hall in the Kremlin, President Putin conferred the award on Prime Minister Modi. The award was announced in 2019.
Prime Minister Modi is the first Indian leader to be conferred with this award, which was established in 1698 by Tsar Peter the Great in honour of Saint Andrew, the first apostle of Jesus and patron saint of Russia.
While accepting the award, Prime Minister Modi dedicated it to the people of India and to the traditional bonds of friendship between India and Russia. He further stated that the recognition illuminates the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries, said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.
“I am heartily grateful to you for conferring me with the highest civilian honour of Russia. This honour is not just mine, this is an honour of 140 crore Indians. This is an honour of the centuries-old and deep friendship and mutual trust between India and Russia,” Modi said after receiving the award.
Modi said under President Putin’s leadership, India-Russia relations have strengthened in all directions and have scaled new heights.
“The foundation of strategic ties between the two nations that you had laid has only further strengthened with the passing of time. Our mutual cooperation, based on people-to-partnership, is becoming the hope and guarantee of a better future of our people,” he added.
Later in a post on X, Modi said, “Honoured to receive the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. I dedicate it to the people of India.”
Earlier, President Putin congratulated Modi for the highest Russian award and wished him good health, success and all the best. (PTI)