February 28, 2024


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‘Up to PM Narendra Modi…’: US official responds to query on India’s role in Russia-Ukraine peace talks

The United States will welcome any effort that could lead to an end of hostilities in Ukraine and it is up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak to whatever efforts he’s willing to undertake in this regard, a top official said on Friday.

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby was replying to a question during a press meet at the White House in Washington on February 10. The query gains prominence in light of India’s status as an ally of both the US and Russia as Russia-Ukraine war approaches its one-year anniversary.

When asked if he thought there is still time for PM Modi to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war, Kirby said the United States would welcome any effort to end the war as long as it meets Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy’s objectives.

“I think there’s still time for Mr Putin to stop the war. I’ll let the Prime Minister [Modi] speak to whatever efforts he’s willing to undertake,” Kirby said.

Zelenskyy has put forth a series of demands for a peace accord, the primary of which is that Russia should withdraw all its troops from Ukraine’s territory. The ownership of the Crimean Peninsula, a disputed region that Russia annexed in 2014, is also a point of argument between the two nations, among other issues.

India has called for diplomacy to end the Russia-Ukraine war multiple times over the course of the past year. During a meeting with Putin at the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in September 2022, PM Modi grabbed international headlines when he told Putin that “today’s era is not an era of war  . The Russian leader had responded by saying he knows India’s position on the conflict and “your concerns that you constantly express” and promised to “do our best to stop this as soon as possible.”

Here’s the full transcript of the relevant question and Kirby’s response:

Question: As far as Russia’s war against Ukraine is concerned, one year now, does the President believe that when Prime Minister Modi of India told President Putin to “stop the war” and “this is not the way,” that this time — that war should go like this? And do you think there is still time for Prime Minister Modi to stop the war or convince President Putin?

Kirby: I think there’s still time for Mr. Putin to stop the war. I think there’s still time for Mr. Putin to stop the war.

Question: Do you think Prime Minister Modi can convince?

Kirby: I’ll let Mr. — I’ll let the Prime Minister speak to whatever efforts he’s willing to undertake.

I want to stress it again, Goyal: I mean, certainly, the United States would welcome any effort that could lead to an end of hostilities in Ukraine that are in keeping with President Zelenskyy’s objectives and his leadership, his determination of what is acceptable to the Ukrainian people.

Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. So, President Biden has said this — gosh — dozens of times. We think this war could end today; it should end today.

The — the single person responsible for what the Ukrainian people are going through is Vladimir Putin. And he could stop it right now.

Instead, he’s firing cruise missiles into energy and power infrastructure, and trying to knock out the lights and knock out the heat so the Ukrainian people suffer even more than they already have.

He could end it right now. And since he’s not willing to do that, clearly, we’ve got to make sure we can help the Ukrainians succeed on the battlefield so that when President Zelenskyy determines it’s time to negotiate — and he’s the only one that can make that determination — he can do it with the strongest hand possible.