Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine in Hiroshima on Saturday – for the first time after Russia launched its “special military operations” in the East European nation on February 24 last year.
Modi will hold a bilateral meeting with Zelenskyy on the sideline of the G7 summit being hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a source in New Delhi said on Friday.
The Prime Minister will also hold bilateral meetings with Kishida, President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam.
The meeting between Modi and Zelenskyy is significant as India has been drawing flak from the United States and other western nations for not condemning Russia for its military operations in Ukraine. It is also significant as Kyiv has been nudging New Delhi to invite Zelenskyy to the G20 summit, which Modi will host on September 9 and 10. New Delhi, however, has so far refrained from committing an invitation to the President of Ukraine, apparently to avoid hurting the sensitivity of India’s decades-old strategic partner Russia.
President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit New Delhi to attend the G20 summit although he had not attended the bloc’s conclave at Bali in Indonesia last year.
Ukraine is not a member of the G20 but Zelenskyy had attended the G20 summit in Bali as Indonesian President Joko Widodo had invited him.
The Prime Minister and the President of Ukraine had their last meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in the United Kingdom in November 2021. They, however, spoke over the phone thrice after Russia launched military aggression against Ukraine.
Modi left New Delhi on Friday morning and reached Hiroshima late in the evening. He will unveil a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Hiroshima on Saturday.
With the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict casting its long shadow over the G7 summit, New Delhi is keen to send out a message by unveiling the statue of the apostle of peace in the city, where the nuclear weapon’s power for mass destruction had been for the first time put on a horrific display.