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Now Biden’s Lost India To Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, awards Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been hosted by President Biden at a state dinner and lavished with praise by White House officials, who describe ties with India as “one of the most consequential relationships” for the United States.

But this week, Modi reminded the world that he has another close relationship — with “my dear friend Vladimir Putin.”

As Modi makes his first visit to Russia since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the images emerging from Moscow of Modi wrapping the Russian president in a hug send a clear signal that the South Asian giant will maintain deep ties with Russia despite the Biden administration’s efforts to woo its prime minister. It also shows that Putin is not as isolated as the White House has hoped.

On X, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted photos of a children’s hospital in Kyiv that was struck by a Russian missile on Monday and criticized the meeting. “It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day,” he wrote.

The meeting represented a coming together of two leaders who need each other but are otherwise drifting closer to dueling camps led respectively by the United States and China. For Modi, Russia remains a crucial source of weaponry and energy and space technology that India sees as indispensable in becoming a great power. Analysts also say India does not want Russia to grow overly dependent upon India’s rival neighbor, China.

Putin’s war effort, meanwhile, has been funded in significant part by Indian purchases of Russian oil products, which have increased almost 20-fold since 2021. Russia, likewise, hopes India will keep some distance from the United States, and Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mocked the West this week for feeling “jealous” about Russia-India ties.

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