Putin’s comments came during a performance with Modi, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where they attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In a stunning public rebuke, Modi told Putin, “The present era is not an era of war, and I spoke to you on the phone about this.”
Modi’s comment, as the two leaders sat in front of journalists and cameras, came a day after Putin admitted he had heard “concerns and questions” about the war from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Commenting on Modi, Putin said: “I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, about your concerns that you constantly express. We will do our best to stop this as soon as possible. Only, unfortunately, the opposing side, the leadership of Ukraine, announced that it would stop the negotiation process, stated that it wants to achieve its goals by military means, as they say, “on the battlefield”. Nevertheless, we will always keep you informed of what is happening there.”
Russia has been hit hard by Western sanctions during the war and is relying on continued trade with India and China, including the sale of oil and natural gas, as a financial lifeline.
Xi and Modi’s questions and criticisms are just the latest push on the Russian president.
Russia has endured severe military setbacks in recent days as a Ukrainian counter-offensive pushed Russian occupation forces out of the northeastern region of Kharkov. Ukraine is continuing that offensive and has called on allies to provide additional weapons in hopes of turning the war decisively in its favor.
Putin launched the large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February and his forces initially attempted to take Kiev, the capital, with the intention of overthrowing President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government. That failed when Ukrainian forces pushed the Russians into a messy retreat.
Russia has claimed tens of thousands of victims and the war seems increasingly invincible. Many analysts say that despite Ukraine’s recent gains, the fighting could go on for months, if not years.
Russia and India have enjoyed close bilateral cooperation for years, but as with China, Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has put the relationship to the test.
On Friday, Moscow faced additional setbacks as it continues to lose its military position in eastern and southeastern Ukraine. At least five pro-Russian officials working in the occupied Ukrainian territories died as a result of explosions and strikes, which Moscow blamed on Kiev.