Russian President Vladimir Putin called Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday night to convey his condolences over the Pulwama attack as well as express his solidarity with New Delhi in its fight against terrorism. Forty CRPF personnel died in the suicide bomb attack on February 14.

Modi thanked Putin for “Russia’s steadfast support for India’s efforts to protect its interests against cross-border terror attacks, and renewed India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism as a pillar of privileged and special strategic partnership”, the government said in a press release. “Both leaders agreed that the concerned should stop all support to terrorism.”

The two leaders also agreed that the growing cooperation between India and Russia will “take their special and privileged strategic partnership from strength to strength”, the statement added.

Putin reiterated his invitation to Modi to attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Vladivostok later this year. “The prime minister welcomed the invitation and underscored the significance of growing economic cooperation, including in the Russian Far East, between the two countries,” the statement added.

Leaders of India, Russia and China had issued a joint communique on Wednesday, stating that extremist groups must not be supported and used for political and geopolitical goals. At the 16th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia India and China in Wuzhen, the three countries had said that those who back terrorism must be brought to justice.

What we know so far

Tensions in South Asia have been high over the past two weeks with India, Pakistan engaged in a standoff since the Pulwama terror attack on February 14. It began with air strikes by the Indian Air Force at a camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on Tuesday morning. India called the operation a “non-military, counter-terror preemptive action”, and said it had eliminated “a large number” of terror operatives.

The next day, Pakistan claimed that its Air Force had struck “non-military” targets across the Line of Control in a show of its capability, and had shot down two Indian aircraft that tried to respond. India said it had shot down a Pakistani jet that tried to target military installations. A pilot of the Indian Air Force was taken in custody by Pakistan during the skirmish, but Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the pilot will be released on Friday “as a peace gesture”.

In a joint statement on Thursday evening, senior officials of the defence forces confirmed that Pakistan had used an F-16 aircraft to drop bombs on Indian military installations the previous day. The aircraft was intercepted and shot down by the Indian Air Force, they said. Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said Pakistan dropped bombs on military targets but they were not able to cause any significant damage.