“We are not neighbors, we do not have a common border, but our souls are similar. Therefore, nothing holds back our cooperation.” – PM Modi
Indo-Russian relations are rooted in mutual trust, history and cooperation. Although world has changed, so do India and Russia, the relation between both remained a stable factor in international life. The relationship enjoys support of the citizens of both the countries. Interests of the both countries are in congruence in the field of defense, oil and gas, nuclear, space.
Recently, PM Modi attended the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) summit. The forum is central to the development of underdeveloped Far East Russia region and seeks to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region which is now commonly known as Indo-Pacific. The natural resource rich region is strategically located in the Asian continent bordering Mongolia, China, North Korea, Japan, Alaska of USA, and two oceans Arctic and Pacific. Natural resources like coal, diamonds, gold, fish, oil and gas, timber are abundant in this region.
In this article, we will take a look at Indo-Russian relations in the context of PM’s visit to Vladivostok to attend the 5th EEF meeting and participation in the 20th India-Russia annual summit with President Putin. He became the first PM of India to attend the EEF summit at Vladivostok. The visit signifies importance India attaches to relations with Russia.
Russia remains the most important supplier of defence equipments, engages in join R&D and has willingness for technology transfer. Development of Brahmos cruise missile is the best example. Weapon systems such as Mig and Sukhoi fighter planes, T-90 military tanks operated by Indian armed forces are provided by Russia. Russian supplied INS Vikramaditya is the only aircraft carrier with India, protecting our interests in Indian Ocean. Tri-Services Exercise ‘IndRa-2019’ between the two countries symbolizes our growing trust and confidence. India has begun payments for Russian S-400 air defense missile systems despite pressures from USA.
Expanding the cooperation further, in recent visit of PM Modi to Vladivostok, both countries agreed on joint manufacturing of spare parts of Russian equipments in India. Along with this, joint venture to produce AK-203 rifles at Amethi takes Indo-Russian cooperation to level of collaboration outside limited environment of buyer-seller.
Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership
Russia has provided diplomatic, political and strategic support at international forums. Due to Russian support, India was admitted to Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as full member. Both countries converge on various issues at BRICS forum. International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) shows strategic convergence in Iran (development of Chabahar Port), Afghanistan (development of Afghanistan’s garland highway) and Central Asia (India joined Ashgabat Agreement). Russia is already helping India build Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Russia was first country to back India on the issue of Kashmir in recent UNSC meeting after making Article 370 ineffective.
Apart from sharing the desire of creating multi-polar world, both the countries are against the outside influence in internal matters of any nation. A maritime route has been proposed between Chennai and Vladivostok to increase connectivity between the regions. The route can be seen as check to expansionist tendencies in South China Sea and to ensure free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. It also signifies that India and Russia can work together to maintain peace and stability in Indo-Pacific.
When India is developing the Gaganyan project, Russia will help with the preparation of our cosmonauts.
Source : Wikipedia
Indian oil and gas companies such as ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL) have already invested in Sakhlin-1 project. It further invested in Imperial Energy, Vankorneft and TasYuryah alond with Indian Oil Corporation, Oil India and Bharat Petro Resources Limited.
With Arctic sea route becoming reality, Indian investments in the Far East Russia is imperative. In August 2019, both countries held talks on potential joint gas projects in the Arctic region. During the Vladivostok visit of PM, a 5-year roadmap for cooperation in hydrocarbon sector, and cooperation in the search for Hydro-Carbon and LNG in the Russian Far East and the Arctic have been agreed.
Despite long term relations, Economic cooperation between both the countries was abysmally low. Indian diaspora in Russia is not as vibrant as in other Western countries due to weak people-to-people linkage. Steps taken by PM Modi in recent visit to Vladivostok are significant to address these lacunae.
Unveiling “Act Far East Policy”, PM Modi announced $ 1 billion credit for the development of the region. PM Modi has also promoted economic relation between Indian States and the Far East Region.
PM Modi has moved the relations beyond the capitals to the states of India and the regions of Russia. In a recent meeting, Indian states have found a framework for development in sectors such as coal, diamond, mining, rare earth, agriculture, timber, pulp & paper and tourism have revealed many new possibilities. The Far East region is also known for its ship-building capabilities. PM Modi also visited Zvezda ship-building complex. These possible collaborations are expected to increase trade and investment propelling mutual economic development.
Moreover, the Far East Region faces dual challenge of shortage of manpower and demographic expansion of China. India can help Russia with its skilled professionals like doctors, teachers, engineers etc. PM assured that India will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with Russia in its development of the Far East region.
Thus, PM Modi’s visit to the Far East Russia was about consolidating traditional ties along with finding new horizons of India-Russia cooperation for stable relation with trusted friend Russia.