Prime Minister Modi is in Moscow right now for a 2-day visit. He and President Putin are expected to come to key decisions regarding defence and nuclear energy cooperation between the two countries, Gujarat Samachar, along with other newspapers, reports. A tradition since 2000, these talks have been alternately held in New Delhi and Moscow on a yearly basis. The two countries share a close bond, with ties that go back to the Cold War. Today, Russia is India’s second largest supplier of defence weapons.
Last year’s visit went a long way in sending the world community a message: that Russia remained as India’s primary defence partner. The previous annual Indo-Russia summit saw Putin and Modi signing 16 agreements, two of which involved the use and development of nuclear energy and technology for peace. It also included the construction of 12 new nuclear power units, all happening within the next 20 years, with two of the power units allocated for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Talks of building a new power plant is also in the works.
However, news that Russia has sold attack helicopters to Pakistan has soured ties between the two, along with India’s decision to go for French Rafale fighters and attack helicopters from American Apache over defence products from Moscow. Serviceability woes, along with spare part problems, seem to plague the relationship. Cost overruns have also caused the Indian government to consider procuring defence products elsewhere—in particular, from the US.
However, with Modi’s visit to the Russian capital, it’s widely expected that the two world leaders will find a way to improve the relationship between the two countries.
Talks are expected to focus on ways to further improve the ties between the two, as well as put the Indo-Russia relationship on a better keel. Wednesday started off with a private dinner with the Russian president at the Kremlin. And in deference to the holiday spirit of giving and generosity, President Putin gifted Prime Minister Modi with an 18th-century sword from Bengal—one that used to belong to the Najafi Dynasty—along with a page from Gandhi’s diary. The page, in particular, contains Gandhi’s handwritten notes. Both are priceless keepsakes and a grand gesture of friendship from Russia’s head of state.
Since 2012, the bilateral trade between the two nations has stayed around Rs 66,250 crore. While it did drop between 2012-2013 to around Rs 62,937 crore—quite a few numbers short from the Rs 99,378 crore target for 2012—both countries continue to seek out ways to aid and improve bilateral trade. Also, Russia buying 49 percent stake in Essar Oil July of this year is regarded by analysts as one of Russia’s strategic investments in the country, giving Rosneft access to the second largest oil refinery in India, located in Gujarat. It’s a good move and will allow Rosneft to sell oil products with relative ease in regions of growing economic power in Africa as well as in some parts of South East Asia.