Johnson to visit India in bid to encourage it to take a harder stance against Moscow
Johnson’s visit comes as the UK has been attempting to persuade India to reduce its reliance on Moscow.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to visit India this week as tensions between the two countries are exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
On Friday, he will meet with his counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi, where they will discuss defense and trade.
It will be Johnson's first major visit to India as Prime Minister after previous visits were canceled due to Covid.
The visit comes as the UK has been attempting to persuade India to reduce its reliance on Moscow.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss visited India last month in an attempt to persuade the country to impose tougher sanctions on Russia and to work more closely on trade, defense, energy, and food security.
Johnson's trip will also include a stop in Gujarat, India's fifth-largest state, on Thursday, where he is expected to announce a major investment in key industries in both the UK and India, as well as new collaboration in science, health, and technology.
Prior to his visit, UK’s Prime Minister said: "As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together.
"India, as a major economic power and the world's largest democracy, is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times,” he added.
"My visit to India will deliver on the things that really matter to the people of both our nations - from job creation and economic growth to energy security and defense, “Johnson concluded.
It is worth mentioning that the visit of a high-ranking UK delegation to India, led by House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and comprised of representatives of several political parties, was called off at the last minute by Indian authorities on March 25, according to The Guardian.
Ten senior British officials had been in talks with India since January and planned to visit New Delhi and Rajasthan. The delegation's intended mission was apparently to explore a UK-India free trade agreement, but that intention changed in the backdrop of Russia's military operation in Ukraine. According to The Guardian, the delegates planned to encourage New Delhi to take a harder stance toward Moscow.
Until now, India has neither imposed sanctions nor condemned Moscow for its military operation in Ukraine, and it continues to import Russian oil despite international pressure. India has been hesitant to sever connections with Russia and is now considering procedures for switching to ruble-rupee trading.
Read more: India rebukes US for warning against Russian oil imports
UK authorities constantly voiced dissatisfaction with India's neutral stance toward Russia but expressed confidence that its views would change since the country remains an important commercial partner for the UK.