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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed disappointment over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia, which he termed as a “devastating blow to peace efforts.” On Monday, PM Modi who is on a two-day visit to Russia met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the latter’s house in suburban Moscow and images from the meeting showed the two leaders exchanging hugs and chatting. Zelenskyy took to social media platform X to post that on the same day that 37 people, including three children, were killed and 170 others were injured due to Russia’s missile strike at the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv.

“In Ukraine today, 37 people were killed, three of whom were children, and 170 were injured, including 13 children, as a result of Russia’s brutal missile strike. A Russian missile struck the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine, targeting young cancer patients. Many were buried under the rubble.

It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day” the Ukrainian leader said. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also criticised PM Modi for meeting Putin amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. “Self-styled Vishwaguru, who also gave himself the title of Vishwabandhu, is in Moscow the day a children’s hospital in Ukraine is bombed. What happened to the ‘Ukraine mein war rukwa di’ boast?,” Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X. The Moscow visit of PM Modi marks his first visit to Russia since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine started in 2022.

India has always advocated for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and restore peace. PM Modi expressed gratitude to the Russian President for hosting him and stated that he looks forward to their talks, which will strengthen India-Russia friendship. “Gratitude to President Putin for hosting me at Novo-Ogaryovo this evening. Looking forward to our talks tomorrow as well, which will surely go a long way in further cementing the bonds of friendship between India and Russia,” PM Modi said on X on Monday.

In a friendly gesture, Putin took PM Modi on a ride in his electric car around his residence, Novo-Ogaryovo. The Russian Embassy in India shared a video of the two leaders enjoying the drive, which followed a conversation between them. “Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi @narendramodiin NovoOgaryovo RussiaIndia DruzhbaDosti,” the Russian Embassy in India said on X while sharing the video.

PM Modi reached Moscow yesterday for a two-day official visit at the invitation of Russian President Putin to attend the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit. PM Modi was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the airport and Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov received PM Modi at the Vnukovo-II Airport. Notably, PM Modi and Putin have met 16 times over the past 10 years. The last in-person meeting between the two leaders took place on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand in 2022. During the meeting with Putin in 2022, PM Modi said, “This is not an era of war.” In 2019, PM Modi conferred the highest Russian state honour, ‘Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First.’