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Will Modi’s Recent State Visit to Washington Impact India’s Foreign Policy Ahead of the SCO?

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Written by Oliver Leicester

Edited by Michele Puggia

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended a four-day state visit in the United States from the 21st to the 24th of June (Chatterjee-Miller, 2023;Pandey, 2023). The leaders reached numerous agreements on tariffs, manufacturing and green energy targets (Chatterjee Miller 2023). However, the most significant agreements discussed regarded defence and security. The US company General Electric will provide fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force.

Furthermore, the Indian Defence Ministry approved the purchase of MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones from the US (Kaushik, 2023). This is noteworthy because the US are described are being usually very “choosy” over who they share military technology with (Chatterjee Miller, 2023). Consequently, could this coupling over military equipment demonstrate a closer partnering of foreign policies, specifically in relation to Ukraine?

India has been reluctant to criticise Russia for the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, despite pressure from Western allies to do so. Indeed, India “has abstained from successive votes in the UN Security Council, General Assembly, and Human Rights Council that condemned Russian aggression” (Tellis, 2022). Moreover, India has “doubled down” on buying Russian oil at bargain prices and continues to place orders for Russian made weapons (Frayer, 2023). In this line, India is the world’s largest importer of arms and Russia supplies 45% of this demand (Pandey 2023). Overall, the trade relationship between Russia and India is a significant factor in why India has refrained from condemning Russia (Tellis, 2022).

Will the new trade agreements with the US be able to persuade India to criticise the war in Ukraine?

India hosted the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (“SCO”) 2023 Summit on 4 July (Panday, 2023). The SCO is a significant platform for Asian leaders to discuss a range of areas including international security. The 2023 Summit was especially significant as it was Putin’s first public appearance since the Wagner Group attempted a coup at the end of June (Pathi, 2023). In there, Putin used this opportunity to assure his allies that his domestic grip on power remains strong (McCarthy, 2023).

However, despite Modi’s trip to Washington and the wishes of western allies, it is unlikely that the Indian leader will use this Summit to criticise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For now, India’s relationship with Russia is too important to disrupt; as discussed, both countries have strong economic ties, but they are also united in their caution of China’s increasing international power in the Eurasian continent (Pandey, 2023; Tellis, 2022). In consequence, for the time being, these factors seem to be more important to India than the issue of Ukraine.



Chatterjee Miller. M (2023) ‘What Did Prime Minister Modi’s State Visit Achieve?, Council on Foreign Relations’ CFR. Accessed:

Frayer. L (20 February 2023) ‘A year into the Ukraine war, the world’s biggest democracy still won’t condemn Russia’, NPR. Accessed:

Kaushik. K (15 June 2023) ‘India approves procurement of U.S. MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones’, Reuters. Accessed:,one%20of%20the%20sources%20said.

McCarthy. S, Mogul. R, Gan. N, and Stambaugh. A, (4 July 2023) ‘Putin reassures pro-Russian world leaders his grip on power remains strong’ CNN. Accessed:

Pandey. V (21 June 2023) ‘Modi US visit: Why Washington is rolling out the red carpet for Indian PM’, BBC. Accessed:

Pandey. V (4 July 2023) ‘SCO summit: Putin to address meeting chaired by Indian PM Modi’, BBC. Accessed:

Pathi. K (3 July 2023) ‘Putin will speak with leaders of China and India in his first summit since the Wagner insurrection’, AP. Accessed:

Tellis. A.J (25 April 2022) ‘“What Is in Our Interest”: India and the Ukraine War’, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Accessed: