Prime Minister Modi had met President Putin in Uzbekistan city Samarkand on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, which concluded last week, and during the meeting Modi told the Russian president, “Today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this.” On his part, Putin told Modi that he was aware of India’s concerns over the Ukraine conflict and that Russia will do everything possible to end it as soon as possible.
The US has said that it is heartened by the comments made by Prime Minister Modi.
“We were heartened by Prime Minister Modi’s comments last weekend,” Dr Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs told a group of reporters and think-tank experts during a virtual round table.
Recently, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also told reporters at a White House news conference that what the prime minister said was “a statement of principle on behalf of what he believes is right and just (and) it was very much welcomed by the US.” Ratner said that US shares India’s commitment to seeing a swift and peaceful resolution of the conflict and continue to engage regularly on this issue.
“We obviously recognise that India has a long and complicated history in terms of its security partnership with Russia and has been in the process over the last many years of diversifying its arms and imports as well as prioritising its own indigenous development, and we want to support them,” Ratner said.
“We want to support India on both fronts and are doing so. We think the trend lines are heading in the right direction. We are deeply engaged in conversations on exploring opportunities for co-development and coproduction. We are also looking for ways to support India’s own indigenisation which we know is a huge priority for Prime Minister Modi and in the military there,” said the senior Pentagon official.
Responding to another question, he said the US is taking a hard look at the co-development and coproduction under Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI).
“We are taking a hard look now at DTTI more broadly and actively discussing with the Indian government how we can adapt the initiative to meet the scope and ambition of our defense partnership. This is an area where we see a lot of great promise. Our leaders are fairly focused on this and again the Two Plus Two ministerial next spring are hoping to have some progress to announce on this front,” he said.
Responding to another question, Ratner said that recent US action with Pakistan on F -6 is not designed as a message to India as it relates to its relationship with Russia.
“The decision inside the US government around the F-16 issue was made predicated on US interests associated with our defense partnership with Pakistan which is primarily focused on counterterrorism and nuclear security and as the (Defense) Secretary made clear to (Defense) Minister Rajnath) Singh during their call last week, this case did not include any upgrades or munitions,” he said.
“We have been engaging with our Indian counterparts, both in advance of the announcement to preview it and during my visit with Assistant Secretary Lew in Delhi as well. So we thought it was quite important to be as transparent as we could with Indian counterparts both in advance and during that decision and it provided a good opportunity to have a healthy exchange on both the US rationale for its limited security partnership with Pakistan as well as a good opportunity to hear India’s concerns about that,” Ratner said.