Rishi Sunak will use a meeting with Narendra Modi in Delhi to push the Indian prime minister to take a tougher stance on Russia, Downing Street said.
The two prime ministers will meet this week before the G20 summit in the Indian capital, where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be discussed in front of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, told Modi a week ago that he would not attend.
Sunak and Modi are expected to discuss a range of issues, including a potential free trade agreement. Downing Street indicated that the British prime minister will also use the meeting to raise the issue of relations between Delhi and Moscow, as India continues to import Russian oil and weapons.
Sunak said in a statement: “Once again, Vladimir Putin failed to show his face at the G20. He is the architect of his own diplomatic exile, isolating himself in his presidential palace and blocking the criticism and reality.
“The rest of the G20, on the other hand, has shown that we will come back and work together to pick up the pieces of Putin’s destruction.”
A Downing Street spokesman added: “India of course has an important role to play, as the world’s largest democracy, in calling out Russia’s assault on human rights and on real democracy itself. We can use the meetings with Modi or elsewhere to encourage them to use their influence to end the brutal invasion.
Sunak hopes to use the summit to persuade world leaders to criticize Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain initiative, the agreement agreed between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey last summer under which supplies of food in Ukraine is allowed to leave the country for export.
Russia left the agreement after accusing western countries of not fulfilling their commitment to allow it to export an increased amount of agricultural products. Sunak plans to use the summit to argue that Moscow’s decision to do so has increased global inflation and harmed the world’s poorest.
The prime minister spoke with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, on Thursday. Downing Street said afterwards: “The prime minister pledged to strengthen the work of G20 countries to escape the Russian blockade and ensure that vulnerable countries can access vital grain shipments. “