Zelensky criticizes Modi’s meeting with Putin on same day Russian attack destroys hospital in Ukraine


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday criticised his Indian counterpart’s visit to Moscow as a “huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts”, the same day a Russian missile hit a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Russian President Vladimir Putin At his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow on Monday, as Russian missiles 900 kilometers (560 miles) away rained down on Ukrainian cities during the morning rush hour, killing at least 38 people and wounding 190 others.

Modi’s two-day visit marks his first to Russia since Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two and a half years ago, with photos and video on Monday showing the two leaders embracing, chatting over tea, riding an electric car and watching a horse show.

“It is a great disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hugging the world’s most bloodthirsty criminal in Moscow on such a day,” Zelensky said in a post on Twitter on Monday, referring to the deadly Russian attacks.

Modi did not address the strikes when he spoke to the Indian community in Moscow on Tuesday, but he praised relations between the two countries. Modi also announced the opening of two new consulates in the Russian cities of Yekaterinburg and Kazan “to facilitate travel and business.”

“Regardless of whether the temperatures in Russia are below zero, the friendship between Russia and India has always been positive,” he said, adding, “This is a relationship built on the basis of mutual trust and mutual respect.”

Extensive daytime shelling hit the capital, Kyiv, and cities including Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Sloviansk and Kramatorsk – some of them densely populated areas far from the front lines.

Ukraine’s emergency services said on Tuesday that 28 people were killed in Kyiv, including four children. Two people were killed and at least 16 others were wounded in the raid on a police station in Kyiv. Ochmatdet Hospital.

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This facility is the largest children’s medical center in Ukraine and has played a vital role in caring for some of the sickest children from across the country.

Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Rescuers work at the Omdit Children’s Hospital, which was damaged during Russian missile strikes, in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 8, 2024.

Videos from the scene showed volunteers working with police and security services to dig through the rubble as smoke billowed from the hospital. Search and rescue operations for people trapped under the rubble continued on Tuesday.

Hospital staff said they tried to move the children to safety in the aftermath of the attack. A senior nurse told CNN that two children were in the operating room at the time of the explosion and were taken to a basement shelter once their procedures were completed. Another senior nurse said surgery was underway on a 2-year-old boy when the attack occurred.

“The lights went out, everything went out. We took out the tools and turned on the flashlights. Everything was quickly fixed. The child was taken down (to the shelter). I immediately ran to help clear the rubble,” Irina Filimonova said.

The explosion forced medical workers to treat sick children outside the facility, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.

“Patients were receiving cancer treatment in hospital beds set up in parks and streets, where medical workers quickly set up triage areas, amidst chaos, dust and debris,” he said in a statement.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Monday that its forces had struck “military-industrial facilities in Ukraine and air bases of the Ukrainian Armed Forces” with long-range, high-precision weapons. Without providing evidence, the Russian ministry also claimed that photos and videos of the hospital explosion confirmed that the damage was caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile.

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Meanwhile, near the Russian capital, Modi thanked Putin for hosting him at his suburban residence, saying in a post on Twitter: “Looking forward to our talks tomorrow as well, which will certainly contribute to strengthening the bonds of friendship between India and Russia.”

Putin is scheduled to host formal talks with Modi on Tuesday at the Kremlin. The visit is a sign that New Delhi and Moscow remain close despite Russia’s growing dependence on China, and is widely seen as the latest salvo in Western leaders’ efforts to push Putin away.

India has longstanding ties with Moscow and remains heavily dependent on the Kremlin for its military hardware. India has ramped up purchases of Russian crude oil at discounted prices, giving Putin’s country a key financial lifeline as it faces isolation from the West.

Gavriel Grigorov/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk around during an informal meeting near Moscow, July 8, 2024.

Ahead of the visit, a statement from Modi’s office said the Indian leader would “review all aspects of bilateral cooperation with my friend President Vladimir Putin and exchange views on various regional and global issues. We seek to play a supportive role for a peaceful and stable region.”

The United States has raised India’s concerns about its relationship with Russia, a State Department spokesman told reporters at a news conference on Monday.

“I’ll look at Prime Minister Modi’s public statements to see what he’s talking about, but as I said, we’ve made our concerns about their relationship with Russia very clear to India,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. “We hope that India and any other country, when they engage with Russia, will make clear that Russia must respect the UN Charter, and it must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

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While India has called for an end to hostilities in Ukraine and restoration of peace, it has also abstained from voting on all resolutions related to Ukraine at the United Nations, stopping short of condemning the Russian invasion.

Gavriel Grigorov/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit a stable during an informal meeting outside Moscow, July 8, 2024.

Trade between the two countries was estimated at about $65 billion in 2023-24, primarily due to strong energy cooperation, but most of that total flowed to Russia, according to Indian foreign ministry spokesman Randhir Jaiswal.

Modi said before the trip that reducing the trade imbalance would be a “priority issue” in his discussions with Putin.

The visit is also Modi’s first bilateral visit since Rare third term win In India’s massive elections last month.

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said the Kremlin attaches “fundamental importance” to Modi’s visit, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported.

The Russian attacks in Ukraine come a day before US President Joe Biden hosts a crucial NATO summit in Washington, where new announcements are expected on the alliance’s military, political and financial support for Kyiv.

In a statement released Monday evening, Biden called the Russian missile strikes in Kyiv — including on a children’s hospital — “a horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality.”

“It is critical that the world continue to stand with Ukraine at this critical moment and not ignore Russian aggression,” Biden said.

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