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Updated Jul 9, 2024, 8:09am EDT
Europe
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Semafor Signals

Modi meets Putin as India balances ties with West and its antagonists

Insights from The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Politico

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 Putin and Modi in 2022.
Putin and Modi in 2022. Sputnik/Alexander Demyanchuk/Pool via Reuters
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The News

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Vladimir Putin “peace is of utmost importance” and ”war cannot solve problems" during his first trip to the Kremlin since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, a visit that is being closely-watched by global leaders.

Modi’s remarks came hours after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed the meeting on social media, calling it “a devastating blow to peace efforts” as Modi’s arrival in Russia on Monday came on the same day as a deadly Russian strike on a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

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India has avoided criticizing Moscow over its war in Ukraine, while also buying Russian oil, despite strong Western sanctions. Analysts said Modi was charting his own geopolitical path, positioning India as a counterweight to Russia’s growing ties to China even as it builds relations with the US.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Modi-Putin meeting comes as Indian leader looks for strength

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Bloomberg

Modi has taken the credit for what he presents as India’s improved global standing. But the recent Indian election left him in a weaker position, Bloomberg columnist Mihir Sharma pointed out, so Modi is likely assessing how to continue promoting India as a leader in the Global South. “New Delhi has long argued that its outreach to Putin is essential to prevent Russia from drifting further into Beijing’s orbit,” Sharma wrote. “Modi is essentially telling Putin: ‘I am the only major leader besides Xi Jinping who will talk to you — but I won’t talk to Xi and you, only you.’”

A new ‘multipolar world order’ not monopolized by US

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The Washington Post

Modi landed in Russia hours after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made a surprise visit to China, days after his own meeting with Putin in Moscow. The dual displays of affection by Beijing and Moscow reflect their efforts “to create a multipolar world order not dominated by the United States,” The Washington Post wrote. Orban’s trip in particular was viewed as a “diplomatic triumph” for Putin, as the Hungarian premier presented his visit — unsanctioned by the European Union, where he now holds the presidency of a key leaders’ group — as a “peacekeeping” mission. “Putin has insisted that the West, particularly the United States and Britain, is responsible for prolonging his war in Ukraine by not pressuring Kyiv to give in to his territorial demands,” it noted.

Orbán’s ‘peacemaking’ trips an attempt to shore up support at home

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Politico

Orbán’s Fidesz party had a poor showing during the recent European elections, and a downturning economy has turned the Hungarian public against him. By acting as Europe’s “peacemaker,” Orbán might be working to shore up new support at home as opposition parties gain a foothold. For the past decade, the Hungarian prime minister has “been constructing an expanding foreign policy narrative,” geopolitical analyst Botond Feledy told Politico. “The current obvious outgrowth of this is the ‘Peace Mission’ narrative, which is also about pursuing his own economic interests, and which he built up very heavily for his own voter base in the last election.”

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