Boris Johnson is grilled on India and Modi’s stance on Russia
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The European Commission President made the comments in a speech on Monday during a two-day visit to New Delhi. Ms von der Leyen said Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine came soon after Russia and China announced a “no-limits” friendship in February with “no forbidden areas of cooperation.”
The European Commission President insisted the war in Ukraine is a “defining moment” in her attempt to convince India to back the West and challenge Moscow.
She said: “What happens in Ukraine will have an impact on the Indo-Pacific region. It already has.
“This is a defining moment. Our decisions in these days will shape decades to come.
“Our response to Russia’s aggression today will decide the future of both the international system and the global economy.
“Will heinous devastation win or humanity prevail?”
India has declined to be publicly critical of its former Cold War ally Russia.
Ms von der Leyen’s comments come as Putin’s devastating war is entering its third month.
The European Commission President’s two-day visit to New Delhi was part of Western efforts to encourage India to reduce ties to Russia, its main weapons supplier.
The EU and India also agreed to set up a trade and technology council to step up cooperation between them.
The US is the only other country that has a technical agreement with the EU similar to the one signed on Monday with India.
In a joint statement, the EU and India said: “Both sides agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement.
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“The Trade and Technology Council will provide the political steer and the necessary structure to operationalise political decisions, coordinate technical work, and report to the political level to ensure implementation and follow-up in areas that are important for the sustainable progress of European and Indian economies.”
Ms von der Leyen’s visit comes days after Boris Johnson met his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, during a two-day trip last week.
The Prime Minister committed to supporting India to build fighter jets in a bid to reduce the amount of arms the nation buys from Moscow, and also wants to wean it off Russian fuel.
But India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said Mr Johnson put no pressure on Mr Modi over his position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Johnson acknowledged India’s “historic relationship” with Russia going back to the Cold War and said “they’re not going to change that” when asked whether he applied pressure on Mr Modi.
The Prime Minister sought to downplay India’s neutrality, saying Mr Modi has asked the Russian President “what on earth he thinks he is doing” in one of “several” interventions.
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