Modi’s Moscow Visit Showcases a Less Isolated Putin, Angering Ukraine

“This has been a time-tested relationship, and there is a consensus in India, regardless of political orientation, that the relationship with Russia is one to be preserved and not squandered,” said Rajan Menon, an international affairs expert and professor emeritus of political science at City College.

Mr. Putin has cast his invasion of Ukraine as an anti-imperial struggle against an encroaching West, and that messaging has resonated in parts of the developing world that once faced Western colonialism.

Unlike in the West, where views of Russia are largely negative, many Indians have a positive opinion of the country, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted this year. In the poll, just 16 percent of respondents in Indian expressed unfavorable views of Russia, compared with 46 percent who said they had a positive association with the country.

Mr. Menon predicted that India would continue to cultivate deeper ties with the United States over the long term, but not at a cost of having to choose sides.

“Anyone who expects you can peel India off and put it in the U.S. column, that is not going to happen,” he said. “Would you rather be completely dependent on the United States or Russia, or have a position of maneuverability between the two?”

Back home in India, representatives of Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party were trading barbs with leaders of the Indian National Congress, its main opponent in Parliament. Jairam Ramesh, a top Congress official, denounced Mr. Modi’s decision to embark on the two-day visit to Russia instead of visiting relief camps in the northeastern state of Assam, where floods have taken a heavy toll and where Rahul Gandhi, the opposition leader, was visiting the victims. But the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine did not come up.

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