India’s long-standing relationship with Russia gives it the ability to urge President Vladimir Putin to end his “brutal and unprovoked” war in Ukraine, the United States said on Tuesday amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Moscow.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierres, in response to a question on the visit at a press briefing, said that New Delhi was a “strategic partner with whom we engage in full and frank dialogue, including their relationship with Russia”.

Jean-Pierres said that it was critical for all countries, including India, to support efforts “to realise an enduring and just peace” in Ukraine.

“It is important for all our allies to realise this,” she said, adding that it was up to Putin to end the war.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that it was a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the “world’s most bloody criminal” in Moscow, referring to Modi’s meeting with Putin.

Zelensky described Modi’s meeting with Putin as a “huge disappointment” in a post on X.

The remarks came after at least 38 persons, including four children, were killed and 190 others injured as Russia launched attacks on cities across Ukraine on Monday.

In Moscow, Modi on Tuesday said that he had raised the issue of the killings of children in conflicts with Putin, the Hindustan Times reported.

“Whether it is war, conflicts, terror attacks – every person who believes in humanity is deeply affected when there is loss of life,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

“But even in that, when innocent children are killed, when we see innocent children dying, then the heart is pierced and that pain is very horrible,” he said.

Modi said that there was no solution on the battlefield. “Between bombs, guns and bullets, solutions and peace talks are not successful, and we have to find the path to peace through the medium of dialogue,” he said, according to the newspaper.

On Wednesday, US Department of State Spokesperson Matthew Miller at a press briefing said that the country had been “quite clear” about its concerns on India’s relationship with Russia.

He added: “We have expressed those privately, directly to the Indian government, and continue to do so, and that hasn’t changed.”

In Washington DC, United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday opened a three-day meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with a speech about the threat posed by Russia and other authoritarian states, The New York Times reported.

The organisation is an intergovernmental military alliance of 30 European and two North American countries.