Putin warns Ukraine; woos China, India

·3-min read

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to continue his invasion of Ukraine, despite the latest counteroffensive, and warned Moscow could ramp up its strikes on its neighbour's vital infrastructure.

Speaking to reporters on Friday after attending a summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation in Uzbekistan, Putin said the "liberation" of Ukraine's entire eastern Donbas region remained Russia's main military goal.

"We aren't in a rush," the Russian leader said, adding Moscow has only deployed volunteer soldiers to fight in Ukraine.

Some hard-line politicians have urged the Kremlin to follow Ukraine's example and order a broad mobilisation to beef up the ranks, lamenting Russia's manpower shortage.

Russia was forced to pull back its forces from large swathes of northeastern Ukraine last week after a swift counteroffensive.

In his first public comments on the setback, Putin said: "Let's see how it develops and how it ends".

He noted Ukraine has tried to strike civilian infrastructure in Russia and "we so far have responded with restraint".

"If the situation develops this way, our response will be more serious," Putin said.

Putin also sought on Friday to assuage India's concern about the conflict in Ukraine, telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi Moscow wants to see a quick end to the fighting and alleging Ukrainian officials refuse to negotiate.

"I know your stand on the conflict in Ukraine and the concerns you have repeatedly voiced," he told Modi.

"We will do all we can to end that as quickly as possible. Regrettably, the other side ... has rejected the negotiations process and stated that it wants to achieve its goals by military means, on the battlefield."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy insists it is Russia that does not want to negotiate in earnest. He has insisted on the withdrawal of Russian troops from occupied areas of Ukraine as a precondition for talks.

Putin's remarks during the talks with Modi echoed comments the Russian leader made during Thursday's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping when Putin thanked him for his government's "balanced position" on the war.

The Russian leader said he and Xi "discussed what we should do in the current conditions to efficiently counter unlawful restrictions" imposed by the West.

The European Union, the US, Australia and other nations have put sanctions on Russia due to the war in Ukraine.

Xi, in a statement, expressed support for Russia's "core interests" but also interest in working together to "inject stability" into world affairs.

China and India have refused to join Western sanctions against Russia, while increasing their purchases of Russian oil and gas, helping Moscow offset the financial restrictions imposed by the West.

Xi is promoting a 'global security initiative' announced in April following the formation of the Quad by the US, Japan, Australia and India in response to Beijing's more assertive foreign policy.

US officials complain it echoes Russian arguments in support of Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Central Asia is part of China's multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative to expand trade by building ports, railways and other infrastructure across an arc of dozens of countries from the South Pacific through Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation was formed by Russia and China as a counterweight to US influence.

The group also includes India, Pakistan and the four ex-Soviet Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran is on track to receive full membership.