US says it has raised concerns with India about its ties with Russia

By Simon Lewis and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has raised concerns with India about its relationship with Russia amid Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told reporters on Monday in response to questions about a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

India has faced pressure from the West to distance itself from Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine. New Delhi has thus far resisted that pressure, citing its longstanding ties with Russia and its economic needs.

Modi met Putin in Russia on Monday in the prime minister's first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. In a post on social media platform X, the prime minister said his talks with Putin "will surely go a long way in further cementing the bonds of friendship" between the two countries.

KEY QUOTE

"I will look to Prime Minister Modi's public remarks to see what he talked about but as I said, we have made quite clear directly with India our concerns about their relationship with Russia," a State Department spokesperson said in a press briefing.

"And so we would hope (that) India and any other country when they engage with Russia would make clear that Russia should respect the U.N. Charter, should respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

CONTEXT

Russia has been India's largest weapons supplier since the Soviet Union days. However, India has also been seeking other options, as the Ukraine war hobbled Russia's ability to supply munitions and spares.

Washington in recent years has looked to woo New Delhi, with political analysts saying the U.S. sees India as a counter to China in the Asia-Pacific.

While the West has tried to isolate Putin, China, India and powers in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America have continued to build ties.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell)