During a long-delayed official visit to India, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is attempting to put his political problems aside and focus on economic links and the Ukraine conflict.

On a two-day tour that begins Thursday, Johnson will visit the western state of Gujarat and meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he intends to forge new economic ties between Britain and its vast former empire, as well as seduce India away from Russia.

Modi has described the situation in Ukraine as “extremely disturbing” and begged for peace from both sides. India, on the other hand, has stayed away from international efforts to censure Russian President Vladimir Putin, abstaining when the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council earlier this month.

Modi has so far remained defiant in the face of demands from US Vice President Joe Biden and others to limit Russian oil and gas supplies.
India imports very little oil from Russia, but it has increased its purchases and purchased 3 million barrels of petroleum last month, precisely as other democracies attempted to isolate Putin through economic penalties. India is a big buyer of Russian armaments, and it just purchased powerful Russian air defense systems.

Britain would “engage with other countries to give alternative choices for defense procurement and energy for India to diversify its supply chains away from Russia,” according to Johnson’s spokesperson, Max Blain.

However, he made it clear that the UK will not “lecture other democratically elected governments on what course of action is appropriate for them.”
During the prime minister’s visit, the two countries will announce new arrangements on defense, green energy, jobs, and science partnerships, according to Johnson’s office.

Following its exit from the European Union in 2020, Britain is attempting to strengthen connections with Asian countries as part of a “Indo-Pacific tilt” to its foreign policy. Johnson intends to speed up talks between Britain and India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, on a post-Brexit trade pact.

The talks began in January, but the prime minister’s spokesman dismissed the possibility of a rapid agreement, saying, “We don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed.”

The trip could also provide a brief reprieve for British Prime Minister David Cameron from a scandal involving government parties that broke the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, authorities punished Johnson for attending his own surprise birthday party in 10 Downing St. in June 2020, when citizens in the United Kingdom were prohibited from interacting with friends and family outside the home. It’s one of a dozen events at government buildings that police are looking into for suspected lockdown breaches as part of the “partygate” scandal.

Johnson delivered a “wholehearted” apology to legislators in Parliament on Tuesday, but said he didn’t break the rules on purpose and dismissed calls for him to resign.

Because of his vacation, Johnson will miss a House of Commons vote on whether he should be investigated for allegedly misrepresenting Parliament when he denied violating any pandemic rules on Thursday.

Johnson had intended to visit India in January 2021, but the trip was postponed due to an increase in coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom. A second date in April 2022 has been postponed due to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus strain in India.


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