Last week, important developments pointed to flickering hopes of peace in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin acknowledged that Xi Jinping had expressed deep concern about the war, and Narendra Modi publicly criticised the Russian leader over his invasion.
China and India, significant economic and military powers, had hitherto avoided condemning Moscow over the conflict and indeed had weakened international sanctions by buying discounted Russian oil. Their change of stance was held up by the West as a highly damaging erosion of support which could drive the Kremlin to accept that a military victory was no longer possible and seek a ceasefire.
President Putin was emollient in his response to the strictures at a summit in Uzbekistan, telling Prime Minister Modi that “we will do our best to stop this [the war] as soon as possible” and address “the concerns that you express”. He told President Xi that he understood “your questions and concerns” about the war.