Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged an end to violence in Ukraine in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the Indian government.
The call between the two leaders took place after Russian forces launched the invasion of Ukraine.
“The prime minister appealed for an immediate cessation of violence and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue,” the Indian government said in a statement late Thursday.
It said that Modi had reiterated to the Russian leader “his long-standing conviction that differences between Russia and the NATO group can only be resolved through honest and sincere dialogue.”
Earlier on Thursday, Igor Polikha, Ukraine’s envoy to India, urged New Delhi to intervene, saying he was “asking and pleading” for its support.
“India should fully assume its global role whenever a totalitarian regime commits aggression against a democratic state,” he told reporters.
So far, India has not condemned Russia for the military operation against Ukraine as it treads carefully in the unfolding crisis, which poses a diplomatic dilemma for New Delhi.
While India and the United States have built close strategic ties, New Delhi also maintains a security relationship with Moscow, which still supplies India with the bulk of its military equipment.
The situation is "complicated” and “evolving,” and "no country saw it coming,” Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told a press briefing on Thursday.
Meanwhile, India is stepping up efforts to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine. The Foreign Ministry said Thursday that teams of Indian officials have been sent to Ukraine’s borders with Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Romania to assist about 16,000 Indian nationals who are stranded.
The issue of the safety of the Indian citizens, especially students, was raised by Modi during his phone call to Putin.
“The prime minister conveyed that New Delhi attaches the highest priority to their safe exit and return to India,” according to India’s statement.
Putin paid a high-profile visit to India in December 2021, during which both countries reaffirmed their partnership.