The Russian president praised his Indian counterpart for acting in the interest of his country and people India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on December 6, 2021. © Money SHARMA / AFP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot be forced into acting against the national interests of India, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, complimenting his counterpart for standing up for his people despite pressure from global superpowers.

“I can’t imagine that Modi can be intimidated, threatened or forced in favor of taking any action or decision against the national interest of India, Indian people. And there is such pressure, I know,” Putin said.

He clarified that this is not something he had ever discussed with Modi, but something he had observed by looking at India’s actions at the global stage. “Sometimes, to be honest, I am even surprised by [Modi’s] tough stance on the protection of the national interests of the Indian people,” Putin added.

It is not the first time the Russian leader has complimented Modi on his policies. Earlier this year, he praised the “Make in India” initiative promoted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, citing India as an example of a country encouraging companies to develop, manufacture, and assemble products locally.

“Our friends in India and our big friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched the ‘Make in India’ initiative several years ago. It has had a truly impressive effect on the Indian economy. It would do no harm to emulate what is working well, even if it was not us but our friends who created it,” Putin said at a forum in June.

He then reiterated this while speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok two months later, urging Russian policymakers to adopt the same approach to developing local products and capabilities. “Modi is doing the right thing, encouraging people to use the brands made in India,” said Putin.

Speaking on Thursday, the Russian leader also stressed that ties between the two countries were growing “in all directions,” citing the Indian government’s policies as a guarantee that the positive trend would continue further.

Moscow’s economic engagement with New Delhi has been at an all-time high, with bilateral trade turnover soaring to nearly $50 billion this year. The relationship between the two countries, however, is coming under constant scrutiny from India’s partners in the West because New Delhi has not supported US and European sanctions on Moscow.

Indian leaders and diplomats have been vocal about New Delhi’s stance on this issue, citing “acting in national interests” as the main reason for continuing trade and strategic engagement with Russia. India’s imports of Russian oil surged by 80% year-on-year to an average of 1.56 million barrels per day in September. Imports from Russia jumped 9.7% in November to 1.74 million barrels per day (bpd). New Delhi has also continued buying weapons from Moscow, which remains the Southeast Asian nation’s key arms supplier.

Earlier this week, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a public event in New Delhi that ties between the two nations had “accumulated” over a period of 60 years and had “saved” New Delhi “at times.” (RT)