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Modi tells Putin 'murder of innocent children heart-wrenching' on visit to Moscow day after Ukraine strikes

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Modi tells Putin 'murder of innocent children heart-wrenching' on visit to Moscow day after Ukraine strikes

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told Vladimir Putin of his heartbreak at the death of children a day after lethal strikes on Ukraine including on a children's hospital in Kyiv.

The pointed remark on Tuesday by the visiting Indian leader was seen as an implicit rebuke to Putin, who moments earlier had welcomed him to the Kremlin. 

Ukraine says it has recovered fragments of a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile at the children's hospital, which was hit on Monday during a wave of Russian attacks that killed at least 41 Ukrainians across the country. At least four children were reported to be among the dead in the strikes.

Moscow claims without evidence that it was a Ukrainian anti-missile system that struck the hospital.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow, Mr Modi said: “Whether it is war, conflict or a terrorist attack, any person who believes in humanity, is pained when there is loss of lives.

"But even in that, when innocent children are killed, the heart bleeds and that pain is very terrifying."

(AP)© Provided by Evening Standard

PM Modi, sitting alongside Putin, said: “If innocent children are murdered, if innocent children die, it is heartbreaking.”

While Mr Modi has appeared to criticise aspects of the war in Ukraine, he has not condemned the invasion.

India has become a close partner to Russia, buying record amounts of discounted Russian oil amid Western sanctions on Moscow.

Putin, speaking before Modi, said their two countries enjoyed a "particularly privileged strategic partnership" and thanked him for his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the war.

"I thank you for the attention you are paying to the most acute problems including trying to find ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, above all by peaceful means, of course," he said.

The pair shook hands at their meeting in Moscow (via REUTERS)© Provided by Evening Standard

Modi responded: "As a friend, I have always said that peace is necessary for our future generations. 

“Solutions are not possible on the battleground. Amidst guns, bullets and bombs, peace talks cannot be successful. We have to find the path to peace only through talks."

The timing of the Ukrainian hospital attack was embarrassing for Mr Modi as he began his two-day visit on Monday. 

As the Indian leader shared an image hugging Putin on social media platform X, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said that it was a "huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world's largest democracy hug the world's most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day". 

Story by Josh Salisbury: Evening Standard

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