Vladimir Putin’s short visit to India has proved the Indo-Russian ties remain strong despite bonhomie of China-Russia and USA-India
Vladimir Putin’s visit to India has once again proved the strategic importance of seven-decade-old Indo-Russia ties despite Russia and India’s salsa with China and the USA, respectively.
On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their annual Modi-Putin summit in New Delhi. In the last two years, Putin has travelled only twice due to COVID-19. It includes his five-hour visit to India. He had earlier travelled to Geneva for meeting his American counterpart, Joe Biden.
In the meeting, both the head of the countries have discussed and exchanged views on annual trade, important regional issues and international developments. Both Indian and Russian foreign and defence ministers met for the first time in 2+2 format on Monday morning. They had signed 28 agreements.
Narendra Modi is well aware of the effort made by Putin to personally travel to Delhi for the summit and extended warmth in his opening remarks. “My dear friend President Vladimir Putin, warmly welcome you to the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit, welcome your delegation. I know this is your second foreign trip in the last two years during the Corona period. The way you have an attachment to India, it is a kind of symbol of your personal commitment, and it shows the importance of India-Russia relations and for this, I am very grateful to you,” he said.
India and Russia have signed a decade-long MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) of technical and military co-operation till 2031, replacing the earlier defence pact of 2011-2020. They have also signed a pact to make AK-203 assault rifles in UP. A factory in Amethi will produce six lakh rifles. Apart from these, 70,000 rifles will be brought off the shelves, as per the agreement.
They have pledged to boost annual trade to $30 billion by 2025. President Putin has said that the bilateral trade has increased 30% this year, a swing from a 17% drop in last year. “We are working on very promising sectors, including energy and space. We are also working and cooperating in areas of military and technology,” he added.
The US sanction
Russia also said that it would continue to give S-400 air defence missile systems. Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that a 2018 contract for the S-400 missile systems is currently implemented.
The military bonhomie with Moscow puts India at risk of the USA sanction as per their 2017 legislation aimed at countries deterring to buy Russian military hardware. Indian Secretary said that the deal was in processing from 2018, much before the sanctions came into existence. He also added, “We conduct an independent foreign policy, meaning neither Russia nor India could take dictation from another country.”
Afghanistan and terrorism
Both India and Russia are following developments in Afghanistan very closely. They are on the same page about cross border terrorism and believe that Afghan soil shouldn’t be used to spread terrorism in the central Asian countries and India.
President Putin, in his opening remarks, had said, “Naturally, we’re concerned about everything that has to do with terrorism. Fight against terrorism is also a fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. With that regard, we are concerned about the developments of the situation in Afghanistan.”