Now is Not a Time for War, Modi Tells Putin as Ukraine Situation Worsens

By Geoffrey Smith — Narendra Modi added to the international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, telling him that “now is not a time for war.”

The Indian Prime Minister’s comments, on the sidelines of a regional security conference in Central Asia, come a day after Putin publicly acknowledged the “concerns” of China, its most important supporter on the world stage.

In a televised exchange with Modi, Putin acknowledged for the second time in as many days the “concern” of a major trading partner.

“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns,” Putin said. “We will do our best to end this as soon as possible.”

He blamed the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for refusing peace talks, preferring to pursue its military objectives instead.

Zelenskyy has repeated his determination this week to expel all Russian forces from Ukraine’s territory – even those on land held since its last invasion in 2014 – reflecting the growing confidence of Kyiv after a stunning advance last week that recaptured a large swathe of territory around the eastern city of Kharkiv and cut a supply route to tens of thousands of Russian troops stationed further south.

Russia’s hold on southern Ukraine appeared to be loosening on Friday, as the Ukrainian military and special forces struck at the pro-Russian administrations of the occupied regions.

A bomb explosion in the administration building of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Luhansk, one of two breakaway regions propped up by the Kremlin since 2014, killed the prosecutor general and his deputy. The administrative center of Russian-occupied Kherson province was also reportedly struck by missiles, killing one official and injuring several more. The deputy mayor of the port of Berdyansk, used by Russian ships to resupply its army via the Sea of Azov, was likewise killed in a bomb explosion.

Ukraine has not formally acknowledged responsibility for any of the strikes, nor has it denied ordering them.

Meanwhile, in the region around the city of Izyum, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces last week, the authorities have uncovered what they claim is a mass grave of those killed by the Russians during their occupation. Eye-witnesses cited by Reuters put the number of bodies found at around 400, several of which bore the hallmarks of having been executed.

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