Ukraine to figure in Modi-Boris talks

India’s ties with Russia in the backdrop of ongoing conflict in Ukraine even while several western nations are imposing sanctions will be discussed in the summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday. The two leaders will meet in New Delhi on Friday.

Making this assertion in Ahmedabad after arriving from the United Kingdom on a two-day visit, Johnson said, “As I think everybody understands, India and Russia have historically very different a relationship, perhaps, than Russia and the UK have had over the last couple of decades. We have to reflect that reality, but clearly I’ll be talking about it to Narendra Modi.”

The conflict will figure in the summit with both the sides exchanging their views.  However, Britain is likely to maintain its stand that it is not in the business of lecturing or telling other countries what to do, sources said here on Thursday.  The two leaders are also likely to review the long term consequences of the Ukraine crisis.

The first British Prime Minister to visit Sabarmati Ashram from where Mahatma Gandhi led the freedom struggle against colonial rule, he also touched upon India’s views on the conflict and said “Well, they’ve already raised Ukraine, as you can imagine with Prime Minister Modi. And actually, if you look at what the Indians have said, they were very strong in their condemnation of the atrocities in Bucha.”

The British Prime Minister termed Mahatma Gandhi an “extraordinary man” who mobilized the principles of truth and non-violence to change the world for better. Johnson wrote in the visitors’ book there “It is an immense privilege to come to the ashram of this extraordinary man and to understand how he mobilised such simple principles of truth and non-violence to change the world for the better.”

Meanwhile, his remarks about Ukraine came in the backdrop of India, time and again, calling for dialogue and diplomacy to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.  Calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities Modi also urged Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to hold one on one to put an end to the war. India, has so far, refrained at least 11 times from voting against Russia in the United Nations Security Council(UNSC)and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

In his remarks, Johnson also said “India and UK both share anxieties about autocracies around the world, we’re both democracies and we want to stick together.”

On relations between the two countries, he said “there’s also the opportunity for us to deepen our security and defence partnership. As you know, the UK is making an Indo-Pacific tilt in our integrated review of our national defence and security strategy.”

Regarding economic ties, the British Prime Minister said both the countries are hoping to complete another free trade agreement “by the end of the year, by the autumn.”

On the nuances of the summit, sources said here it will focus on the centrality of India in the rise of the Indo-Pacific, in keeping with the priority attached to India in the UK’s integrated review of defence, security and foreign policy in 2021. The two sides may also discuss the issue of economic fugitives such as Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi.  Britain is also likely to discuss the issue of pro-Khalistan elements there as it is determined to counterextremism, sources said.

Starting his two-day visit to India, Johnson arrived in Ahmedabad on Thursday morning. On the first day of his tour, Johnson met industrialist  Gautam Adani.  The visiting Prime Minister began his visit with a roadshow from the Ahmedabad airport to his hotel on Thursday morning.