Underlining Russia’s increasing international isolation a day after China’s leader refrained from offering full-throated support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India told President Vladimir V. Putin on Friday that it is no time for war.
Speaking on the sidelines of a regional security summit in Uzbekistan, Mr. Modi said the world was grappling with major challenges, including food and energy crises that were hitting developing countries especially hard.
“Today’s era is not one for war,” he said.
Before Mr. Modi made his comments, Mr. Putin said he understood India’s concerns about the war in Ukraine.
“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns that you constantly express. We will do our best to stop this as soon as possible,” he said. “Only, unfortunately, the opposing side, the leadership of Ukraine, announced its abandonment of the negotiation process,” he added.
Mr. Modi’s comments came a day after President Xi Jinping of China — in his first face-to-face meeting with Mr. Putin since the invasion began — struck a far more subdued tone than the Russian president, and steered clear in his public comments of any mention of Ukraine. The muted Chinese support was a sign that Russia lacks the full backing of its most powerful international partner as it tries to recover from a humiliating rout in northeastern Ukraine last week.
With Russia under Western sanctions, India and China have been pivotal financiers for Moscow, including by purchasing Russian energy at a discount — putting themselves in the middle of the messy war with Ukraine and a geopolitical standoff with the West.
From the start of the war, India has sought to carve a middle path in the crisis, attempting to maximize its leverage on the global stage without limiting its economic opportunities. It has ignored American entreaties not to buy Russian oil, framing its purchases of Russian crude as a necessity at a time of rising food and fuel prices for its majority-poor population.
India has called for dialogue while avoiding challenging Russia as an aggressor, with its officials quietly insisting that their country is an intermediate power and needs to maintain ties and credibility with both Russia and the West in order to help make peace.