The Indian prime minister’s visit to Russia comes at a crucial time as bilateral trade has surged to unprecedented levels  Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the 22nd Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Heads of State Council (SCO-HSC) Summit, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. © Sputnik

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Kremlin official said on Tuesday. The meeting comes just days after Modi assumed office for a third term.

According to Putin’s foreign policy aide, Yuri Ushakov, the exact dates are not yet public, as both parties will announce them jointly. Earlier on Tuesday, Indian newspaper The Tribune announced that the visit is scheduled for July 8. Russian news agency TASS reported, citing sources, that it will be a two-day visit.

Modi’s trip to Moscow is also significant as it is a standalone state visit. The two leaders will also be able to meet later this year on the sidelines of the BRICS leaders’ summit in Kazan, the reports noted.

The Russian president invited the Indian prime minister to Moscow during Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s visit to Russia in December 2023. “[Modi and I] will be able to discuss all current issues and talk about the prospects for the development of Russian-Indian relations,” Putin said at the time.

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According to the declaration on strategic partnership between the two countries, the leaders are to meet annually. In 2020, however, a summit could not be held due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Putin visited New Delhi in December 2021.

Later, the two leaders met separately during the September 2022 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand. Modi’s last visit to Russia was in 2019, when he attended the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

The two leaders regularly hold talks by telephone, however. Putin called Modi earlier this month to congratulate him on the success of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance in the parliamentary election. Modi also congratulated Putin earlier this year after he won his fifth term as president.

India and Russia have maintained robust ties despite scrutiny from the US and its allies over the Ukraine conflict. Trade turnover increased sharply in 2023, reaching a record $65 billion, largely driven by Indian purchases of coal and oil.

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Earlier this month, India distanced itself from the document issued at the Ukraine summit in Switzerland regarding Vladimir Zelensky’s ‘peace formula’, which was rejected by Russia. New Delhi stressed that only solutions acceptable to “both the parties” can achieve a lasting peace in Ukraine.

During a meeting with Zelensky on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy earlier this month, Modi reiterated that India believes “in a human-centric approach and that way to peace is through dialogue and diplomacy.”

Modi’s visit comes amid US efforts to engage with New Delhi following Modi’s recent election victory in which he secured a third consecutive term. Days after he assumed office, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan flew to India and signed several agreements, including one to prevent the leaking of sensitive technologies to “countries of concern.” US President Joe Biden also met with Modi on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

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