Putin confirms G20 absence to Modi, congratulates India on moon landing
The Russian president speaks to the Indian leader about ‘issues of mutual concern’, including trade and economic cooperation.
Putin, right, and Modi meet on the sidelines of the 2022 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan [File: Alexander Demyanchuk/Sputnik/Pool via Reuters]Published On 29 Aug 202329 Aug 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin will skip the Group of 20 (G20) summit in India next month and will send his foreign minister instead, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office has said.
Modi’s office said he spoke to Putin by telephone on Monday, “expressing an understanding” for his decision not to attend the September 9-10 summit, which Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend.
Putin also congratulated Modi for India being the first country to land a spacecraft on the moon’s south pole last week.
Both Russia and India launched lunar probes this month, but only the Indian one landed successfully on the moon while the Russian craft crashed.
“Readiness was reaffirmed to further develop bilateral cooperation in the space sector,” said a statement by the Kremlin following the phone conversation.
Modi and Putin also spoke on “issues of mutual concern”, including the recently concluded BRICS summit in South Africa.
The two leaders took part in the summit, though the Russian president attended via video link because of an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for him over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
The Kremlin denies the accusations, insisting the warrant against Putin is “void”.
India is not a signatory of the ICC. It has also shied away from explicit condemnations of Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, despite pursuing greater security ties with the United States.
Russia has sought to further strengthen already warm ties with India after its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 triggered sweeping Western sanctions on Moscow.
Russia remains by far India’s biggest arms supplier, while India is a major buyer of Russian oil.
“Topical issues of Russian-Indian relations, which are progressively developing in the spirit of a particularly privileged strategic partnership, were considered [in the call],” the Kremlin said in a statement.
“The positive dynamics of trade and economic cooperation was affirmed,” it added.