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India Prime Minister tells Putin that now ‘is not an era of war’

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that now was not the time for war, directly assailing the Kremlin chief in public over the nearly seven-month-long conflict in Ukraine.

Locked in a confrontation with the West over the war, Putin has repeatedly said Russia is not isolated because it can look eastwards to major Asian powers such as China and India.

But at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), concerns spilled out into the open.

“I know that today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this,” Modi told Putin at a televised meeting in the ancient Uzbek Silk Road city of Samarkand.

As Modi made the remark, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999 pursed his lips, glanced at Modi and then looked down before touching the hair on the back of his head.

Putin told Modi that he understood the Indian leader had concerns about Ukraine, but that Moscow was doing everything it could to end the conflict.

He said Ukraine had rejected negotiations. Ukraine has said it will fight until it drives all Russian troops from its land. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he will never accept a “peace” that allows Russia to keep Ukrainian land.

India has become Russia’s No. 2 oil buyer after China as others have cut purchases following the invasion.

Editing by Tersoo Nicholas