Ukraine in focus as eight European leaders visit India

A few days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India, at least eight European leaders and ministers are expected to visit the country in the coming days, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Von der Leyen, who was German defense minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel until 2019, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, where the crisis arising from the Russia-Ukraine conflict is expected to be discussed.

The foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway and Luxembourg are also expected to be in India.

As they all come for the Raisina Dialogue, the flagship conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics organized by the Department of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation from April 25-27, the war in Ukraine is expected to dominate their conversations with Indian interlocutors. .

Prime Minister Johnson also discussed the war with Indian leaders.

The foreign ministers of Argentina, Armenia, Guyana, Nigeria, Madagascar and the Philippines are also expected to attend the conference. Also likely to attend are former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and former Australian Prime Minister Anthony Abbott.

The conference which begins on Monday comes a week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for Germany and Denmark on his first foreign visit this year. He could also travel to France, depending on the outcome of Sunday’s French presidential election.

In Berlin, the Prime Minister will meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz on May 2, before traveling to Copenhagen where he will meet the Prime Ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway for the India-North Summit. Here too, the Ukrainian-Russian crisis should be at the top of the agenda.

Earlier this month, President Von der Leyen became the first European leader to visit Bucha, the kyiv suburb where evidence of possible war crimes was found after Russian troops withdrew. She told Ukraine that the EU would continue to support the country and make Russian President Vladimir Putin pay a “heavy price” for his war. According to Ukrainian officials, more than 300 people were killed by Russian forces in Bucha and around 50 of them were executed. Moscow denies the accusations.

India condemned the killings of civilians in Bucha, but did not name Russia and called for an independent investigation.

New Delhi has been engaged by European countries over the past two months over its stance on the war, which is seen as neutral.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also visited India in March.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his counterparts from the Philippines, Argentina and Nigeria on Sunday.

After the meeting with Philippine Foreign Minister Teddy Locsin, Jaishankar tweeted, “I enjoyed his insights and perspectives on Indo-Pacific, Europe, Myanmar, Ukraine and multilateralism. Reviewed the progress of bilateral relations since our last meeting in February.

When meeting Argentina’s Santiago Cafiero, Jaishankar tweeted, “A productive meeting with FM @SantiagoCafiero from Argentina during his first visit to India. We discussed expanding our bilateral trade and cooperation in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, electronics, electric mobility, defense and atomic energy. Will work closely within the G20 and multilateral forums.

During his meeting with Nigerian Geoffrey Onyeama, Jaishankar tweeted: “We have agreed to expand our development partnership focusing on health, infrastructure, education, agriculture and capacity building. Also talked about more trade and investments. We discussed our defense and security cooperation projects. Exchange of views on the Commonwealth, the UN and the African Union.