(Bloomberg) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Russia for the first time since the start of the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine, a trip that follows his return to office for a third term and underscores the strong ties between the two countries.  

The Kremlin’s foreign policy aide, Yuri Ushakov, announced Modi’s trip on Tuesday, saying the exact dates of the visit will be confirmed later. Tass news service reported earlier that the Indian leader was set to spend two days in the country in early July.

Modi’s trip to Moscow will be a short, official visit, said a senior Indian official, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. It would be his first trip to the Russian capital since 2015. Modi visited Vladivostok in 2019 and last met Russian leader Vladimir Putin two years ago on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs declined to comment when contacted for further information. 

India and Russia share deep economic and political ties, which have remained strong despite sanctions against Moscow from the US and other Western governments after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. India, the world’s third-largest crude consumer, is a major buyer of discounted Russian oil. Moscow remains India’s biggest supplier of military hardware, accounting for 36% of India’s arms imports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Both countries are also members of the BRICS group of nations, with Russia holding the rotating chairmanship of the bloc this year.

New Delhi has avoided criticizing Russia for invading its neighbor, and has advocated diplomacy to resolve the conflict. Modi skipped an annual in-person summit with Putin in December 2022 after the Russian leader threatened to use nuclear weapons in his war against Ukraine. Almost a year later, Putin failed to attend the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi, which helped Modi forge a consensus statement on the invasion among the other members, including the US, which sought tough criticism of Russia.

(Updates with additional details throughout.)

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