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Zelensky says he counts on ‘India’s participation’ in implementation of peace plan in call with Modi

Ukrainian leader also takes apparent parting shot at India’s growing ties with Russia

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 27 December 2022 14:37 GMT
Zelensky: India's G20 presidency key to peace plan success

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky told India’s prime minister Narendra Modi he wanted New Delhi to more actively support the implementation of his “peace formula” but also took an apparent dig at the country’s “fruitful” G20 presidency.

Mr Zelensky’s telephone call with Mr Modi marked their fourth exchange since the war began and occured less than a fortnight after the Indian leader spoke to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“I had a phone call with PM Narendra Modi and wished a successful G20 presidency,” tweeted Mr Zelensky.

“It was on this platform that I announced the peace formula and now I count on India’s participation in its implementation,” he added, referring to a 10-point plan he proposed at the G20 meet in Indonesia this year.

“India can be more active in efforts to end aggression,” Mr Zelensky stated in a video address on Monday, while discussing his conversation with Mr Modi.

Mr Putin was extended an invitation this year to the G20 and SCO events, both of which will be held in India in 2023.

The phone call comes as Delhi boosted trade ties with Moscow, with their bilateral trade jumping to record levels. In particular focus are India’s surging oil imports from Russia at a discounted price, making Russia its top oil supplier from near zero levels, even as Western countries imposed sanctions.

With India hosting the G20 presidency, Mr Zelensky wished Mr Modi “a fruitful presidency”, but, in an apparent jibe at India’s relationship with Russia, adding that this was something “fruitful for not someone in particular but for everyone in the world who values peace”.

The Ukraine president’s 10-point peace plan outlines several steps, most notable of them being “countering ecocide (economic suppression)” to end the war.

While Mr Zelensky hoped India and Ukraine would work together for global stability next year, it is not yet clear if Mr Modi has invited the Ukrainian leader – like his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo did – to the summit that will be held in the country next year.

In a statement, the Indian government said Mr Modi “strongly reiterated his call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and said that both sides should revert to dialogue and diplomacy to find a lasting solution to their differences”.

But India’s statement notably did not mention Mr Zelensky’s call to participate in the peace formula.

“Prime Minister also conveyed India’s support for any peace efforts, and assured India’s commitment to continue providing humanitarian assistance for affected civilian population,” it added.

Mr Zelensky’s demand comes on the heels of his foreign minister’s scathing rebuke of the Indian leadership for “benefiting from Ukrainian suffering”.

“We are waiting for the moment when Indian foreign policy will call spade a spade, and name the conflict - not ‘war in Ukraine’, but what it is, a ‘Russian aggression against Ukraine’,” Mr Kuleba had said.

Frustration from Ukraine and Western allies has cropped up from time to time as a lot of Moscow’s oil flows to Europe were diverted to India after sanctions attempted to cut off funding to Russia’s war chest.

India has not explicitly condemned Russia for the invasion, has frequently referred to it as a “conflict” and defended its bilateral trade by saying it was within the boundaries of its national interest.

Russia has also been called “a steady and time-tested partner” by the country.

Moscow has sent Delhi a list of more than 500 products it wants to import, including parts for cars, aircraft and trains, reported Reuters.

India and Russia’s bilateral trade soared to $27bn in the first 10 months of 2022, jumping to a record high of 3.7 per cent growth from 2021, according to statistics from India’s federal commerce ministry.

Mr Putin on Sunday said he was ready to negotiate “about acceptable solutions” in Ukraine but blamed Kyiv and Western backers for not engaging in talks.

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