Biden pushes Modi to take a harder line against Russia over Ukraine

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Biden Pushes Modi To Take A Harder Line Against Russia Over Ukraine Biden Pushes Modi To Take A Harder Line Against Russia Over Ukraine
Biden US India, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Fatima Hussein and Ashok Sharma, Associated Press

US president Joe Biden spoke on a video link with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday, stressing the countries’ shared values as the US has pushed India and others to take a harder line against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Biden opened the conversation by emphasising the defence partnership between the two countries and by saying the US and India are going to “continue our close consultation on how to manage the destabilising effects of this Russian war”.

“The root of our partnership is a deep connection between our people, ties of family, of friendship and of shared values,” the US president said.

India’s neutral stance in the war has raised concerns in Washington and earned praise from Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who lauded India this month for judging “the situation in its entirety, not just in a one-sided way”.

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Mr Modi called the situation in Ukraine “very worrying” and he noted that an Indian student lost his life during the war. He said he has spoken with Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, appealing to both of them for peace.

India has condemned the killings uncovered in the city of Bucha and has called for an independent investigation.

Still, India has refrained from some efforts to hold Russia accountable for its invasion. India abstained when the UN General Assembly voted on Thursday to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council over allegations that Russian soldiers in Ukraine engaged in rights violations that the US and Ukraine have called war crimes.

The vote was 93-24 with 58 abstentions.

India continues to purchase Russian energy supplies, despite pressure from Western countries to avoid buying Russian oil and gas. The US has also considered sanctions on India for its recent purchase of advanced Russian air defence systems.

Last month, the state-run Indian Oil Corporation bought three million barrels of crude from Russia to secure its needs, resisting entreaties from the West to avoid such purchases. India isn’t alone in buying Russian energy, however. Several European allies such as Germany have continued to do so, despite public pressure to end these contracts.

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Indian media reports said Russia was offering a discount on oil purchases of 20% below global benchmark prices.

Iraq is India’s top supplier, with a 27 per cent share. Saudi Arabia is second at around 17 per cent, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 13 per cent and the US at 9 per cent, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Mr Biden and Mr Modi last spoke in March.

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