May 17, 2022

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Narendra Modi secures diplomatic wins despite refusing to break with Russia

2 min read

Emmanuel Macron greeted him with a bear hug in front of the Elysée Palace shortly after he was re-elected French president. In Berlin, German chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed his “super partner”. UK prime minister Boris Johnson, on a visit to New Delhi, lavished praise on his khaas dost, or special friend.

The bonhomie from European leaders in recent weeks towards Narendra Modi capped a frantic period of international diplomacy for the Indian prime minister, despite his refusal to break ties with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Modi toured France, Germany and Denmark after visits to India by Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, as western leaders courted him and signed bilateral deals designed to bind New Delhi — seen as a vital Asian counterbalance to China — closer to the west.

“There’s the realisation that India is far too big and far too important to be slotted into these convenient definitions of, ‘Either you’re with us or you’re against us’,” said Nirupama Rao, a former Indian foreign secretary and ambassador to the US and China. “The stand that India has taken has largely helped India to consolidate its own interests.”

After some early criticism, western leaders have carefully avoided tense exchanges over New Delhi’s ties with Moscow. Instead, with India’s military dependent on Russian weaponry, the UK and France have announced defence partnerships in order to diversify its arsenal. The EU and UK have also sought to turbocharge talks for free trade deals to deepen economic links.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson described Modi as his ‘khaas dost’, or special friend, during a visit to New Delhi in April © REUTERS

Some leaders, such as Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen, who met Modi in Copenhagen, have suggested that India could use its neutrality over the conflict to “influence” Moscow.

“Everyone understands the fact that the political leadership in India is perfectly…

2022-05-14 20:05:08

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