Liz Truss heads to India to urge Modi to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Politics

The Foreign Secretary is heading to India to urge its government to work with other democracies to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There is growing concern in the West over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reluctance to publicly denounce the actions of Russia, an ally of India since the Cold War.

India relies heavily on Moscow for arms imports and has abstained in a series of votes in the United Nations over the invasion.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss walks outside Downing Street, in London, Britain, March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is travelling to India to urge the country to condemn Russia’s invasion

The government agreed this month to import three million barrels of heavily discounted Russian oil after Moscow had to drop prices because of international sanctions.

There are concerns the relatively small amount of oil is a precursor for more purchases in the coming months, which could weaken the impact of Western sanctions on Russia.

Read more:
Buying Russian fuel gives ‘bloody money’ to Moscow, says Ukraine

Liz Truss’ visit is not just about Russia. She will confirm £70m of UK investment funding to support renewable energy development in India, one of the world’s biggest users of hydrocarbons.

More on India

She will also announce a new joint cyber security programme to protect online infrastructure in both countries from attacks.

Trade is also likely to be on the agenda after the two countries launched free trade deal talks in January with the aim of signing an agreement by the end of the year that could boost trade by billions of pounds.

Ayesha Imthiaz, a student in Udipi, said the ban was humiliating
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A court in Karnataka upheld a ban on students wearing a hijab

But there are other troubles brewing in India that Ms Truss will have to contend with, including a ban on wearing hijabs in classrooms in Karnataka state, seen as a bid to sideline minority Muslims in the largely Hindu nation.

There are fears similar bans could be enforced in other states after a court upheld the decision, prompting some female Muslim students to consider dropping out of college.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have also risen recently, with two suspected rebels killed in a shootout with government forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main city early on Wednesday, police said.

The neighbouring countries each claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety, with tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces killed in the conflict since 1989.

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What happened on day 35 of the conflict?

Since becoming prime minister in 2019, Boris Johnson has attempted to build stronger relations with India, striking a landmark agreement with Mr Modi last year to strengthen ties over the coming decade.

Ahead of her trip to India, Ms Truss said: “Deeper ties between Britain and India will boost security in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and create jobs and opportunities in both countries.

“This matters even more in the context of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and underlines the need for free democracies to work closer together in areas like defence, trade and cyber security.

“India is an economic and tech powerhouse, the world’s largest democracy and a great friend of Britain, and I want to build an even closer relationship between our two nations.”

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