Russia’s Putin to not visit India for G20 summit next month

(Reuters) -Russia will be represented by its foreign minister at the G20 summit in New Delhi, President Vladimir Putin told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a phone call on Monday where the two leaders also discussed bilateral ties.

The two leaders also spoke about the planned expansion of the BRICS group of emerging economies – comprising India, Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa – as well as a summit of the G20 club of major economies that New Delhi will host next month.

Last week, Modi and Putin both took part in the BRICS summit in South Africa, though the Russian leader attended only via video link because of an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for him over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

The Kremlin, which strongly denies the ICC allegations, has said Putin would also not attend the G20 gathering in India.

Putin told Modi Russia would be represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to a statement from the Indian government.

“While expressing an understanding for Russia’s decision, PM thanked President Putin for Russia’s consistent support to all initiatives under India’s G20 Presidency,” the Indian government said.

Russia has sought to further strengthen already warm ties with India after its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 triggered sweeping Western sanctions on Moscow. India is a major buyer of Russian oil.

“Topical issues of Russian-Indian relations, which are progressively developing in the spirit of a particularly privileged strategic partnership, were considered (in the call),” the Kremlin said in a statement.

“The positive dynamics of trade and economic cooperation was affirmed,” it added.

Both Russia and India launched lunar probes this month, but only the Indian one landed successfully on the moon while the Russian craft crashed.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Gareth Jones and Alex Richardson)