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Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Sept. 16, 2022. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Alexandr Demyanchuk /Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection on March 18, becoming one of the few democratically elected leaders to do so.

The three-day Russian presidential election that concluded on March 17 resulted in 87.2% of the vote going toward Putin. It was widely viewed as neither free nor fair, and many Western leaders declined to offer their congratulations to Putin, instead opting to criticize the circumstances in which the election was held.

A small group of autocratic leaders, such as Kim Jong-Un of North Korea and Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, sent their congratulations to Putin.  

Modi, the head of the world's largest democracy, issued "warm congratulations" to Putin in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"(I) look forward to working together to further strengthen the time-tested Special & Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia in the years to come," Modi continued.

India and Russia have long had close ties. The Soviet Union was a critical supplier of military equipment to India as it faced off with its primary foe, Pakistan, which was backed by the U.S.

Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, India has largely maintained a neutral stance, declining to condemn Moscow's military aggression or join the West in isolating Russia. India's trade with Russia has also substantially increased.

India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited Moscow in December and said that Indo-Russia ties are "very strong."

A Pew poll conducted in August 2023 found that 57% of Indians had a positive view of Russia, and another 59% had "confidence in Russian (President) Vladimir Putin."

When asked about economic ties, 71% of Indians said that "maintaining access to Russia's oil and gas reserves is more important than being tough with Russia on Ukraine."

Reuters: US sanctions may threaten Russian oil sales to India
A new U.S. sanctions package against Russia may threaten Russian oil exports to India, a major source of funding for its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported on Feb. 28.
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