The prime minister has suggested that New Delhi will participate in an upcoming ‘peace summit’ based on Vladimir Zelensky’s formula India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi on September 9, 2023. © Evan Vucci / POOL / AFP

India will “resonate the voice of the Global South” at a conference on the Ukraine conflict hosted by Switzerland next month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said during an interview with the PTI news agency.

Commenting on the planned Swiss gathering and a G7 meeting in Italy also scheduled for mid-June, Modi said India “will be participating in all important summits that promote the agenda of global peace, security and development.”

The prime minister did not, however, confirm whether he will represent India in person at the events. The level of participation would depend on “timing, logistics, and parallel commitments,” he underlined.

Modi is seeking a third term as prime minister in ongoing Indian elections. The results will be declared on June 4, days ahead of the proposed summits.

In a phone call with Modi in March, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky sought his attendance at the “peace formula” summit in Switzerland. Subsequently, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba traveled to New Delhi to convince the Indian leadership to attend the event. The summit is expected to revolve around Zelensky’s proposed roadmap for ending the conflict with Russia, which hasn’t been invited.

Moscow has already dismissed Zelensky’s ‘peace plan’ – which demands the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from all territories Ukraine considers its own, among other conditions – as “unrealistic.”

Why is the West desperate to have India at a Ukraine summit that Russia has rejected? Why is the West desperate to have India at a Ukraine summit that Russia has rejected?

Switzerland has also made efforts to seek support from India. Foreign Secretary Alexandre Fasel traveled to New Delhi last week to extend an invitation to Modi to participate at the summit, telling PTI that “India is a friend of the world. There is really an expectation from the international community that India can contribute to this process.”

More than 160 countries have been invited to take part in the event, which is set to take place on June 15-16 at the Burgenstock Resort near Lucerne. Swiss President Viola Amherd, who claimed that the summit will draw delegations from more than 50 countries, has called for the participation of China and other nations from the Global South.

Kanwal Sibal, retired Indian foreign secretary and former ambassador to Russia, Türkiye, Egypt, and France argued in a column for RT last month that the summit could be a “ploy to diplomatically isolate Russia by demonstrating that Ukraine wants peace.” He suggested that India may not deem it appropriate for Modi to be present, and could instead decide on representation at a lower political level.

India, which has positioned itself as the de facto leader of the Global South, has repeatedly called for an end to hostilities between Russia and Ukraine through diplomatic means. New Delhi has also refused to condemn Moscow despite constant scrutiny from the West. It has criticized sanctions imposed by the US, EU, and their allies against Russia, and continues to maintain robust economic and diplomatic ties with Moscow. Bilateral trade between the two sides reached $65 billion last year, largely driven by Indian purchases of discounted Russian oil.

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