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MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Tuesday said it was “preparing” for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Russia in the near future, but declined to give a specific date.

The trip would be Modi’s first to Russia since Moscow launched its full-scale military offensive on Ukraine more than two years ago, a conflict that has tested relations between Moscow and New Delhi.

“We are preparing for the visit. We will inform you in a timely manner,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about earlier reports in Indian and Russian media that Modi was planning to visit Moscow in early July.

Russia, India closer to joint military equipment production

Putin sees India and Modi as a potential diplomatic and economic ally, but Russia’s offensive on Ukraine has complicated ties.

In a September 2022 meeting between Putin and Modi at a regional summit in Uzbekistan, the Russian president told Modi he understood he had “concerns” about the conflict and that Modi wanted it to end “as soon as possible.”

Earlier this year, India said it was pushing Russia to release some of its citizens who had signed up for “support jobs” with the Russian army, following reports some were stranded in Russian border towns and had been forced to fight in Ukraine.

It urged Indians to “stay away from this conflict”.

But New Delhi has also not been a staunch backer of Kyiv, notably declining to sign a joint communique at a peace summit in Switzerland earlier this month that called for Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be respected in any peace agreement.

India has also become a major buyer of Russian oil, providing a much needed export market for Russia after it was cut off from traditional markets in the West.

Recently re-elected for a historic third term, Modi last visited Russia in September 2019 for a India-Russia annual summit in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

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