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Mukul asked: Why has Indo-Russian cooperation been limited to energy and defence when India has so much to offer?

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  • Meena Singh Roy replies: India-Russia relations have not been limited to energy and defence. While defence has been the strongest leg of the bilateral cooperation, there are several other areas in which the two countries cooperate – spanning culture, trade, transportation, education, science and technology, space, civil nuclear, etc.

    The bilateral relations were taken to new heights when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Vladivostok on September 04-05, 2019 for the India-Russia Annual Summit and to participate in the 5th Eastern Economic Forum as the Chief Guest. At the 20th Annual Summit, fresh opportunities were explored to include new areas of cooperation and re-energise the existing ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ between the two countries. Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, acknowledging the “growing momentum of bilateral contacts at all levels,” prioritised “strong, multi-faceted trade and economic cooperation as the foundation for further expanding the range of India-Russia relations.”

    During the 5th Eastern Economic Forum, India unveiled its ‘Act Far East’ policy. Prime Minister Modi announced a $1 billion line of credit for the development of Russia’s resource-rich Far East, where India is investing in the field of diamond, coal and gold mining – besides energy.

    Russia’s Far East continues to be of great significance to India. New Delhi’s increasing volume of trade with this region has expanded by over three per cent in 2018 to US$ 790 million, while India’s total trade with Russia crossed $10 billion. Both countries aim to achieve a bilateral trade target of $30 billion by 2025.

    In the energy sector, India and Russia are determined to forge cooperation in geological exploration and joint development of oil and gas fields including offshore fields. During the annual summit, they agreed on the long-term flow of energy from Russia to India, including through the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic. The two sides signed a roadmap for cooperation in hydrocarbons for 2019-24. In the nuclear sector, it was said that 12 more Russian-designed power units will be built within the next 20 years. 

    The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) was also discussed, focusing on electronic document workflow, including introduction of digital technologies and satellite navigation in the transportation process. A new maritime connectivity route between Chennai and Vladivostok was also introduced.

    In a major breakthrough in the defence sector, India will start manufacturing spare parts and components for the Russian military equipment under ‘Make in India’ programme through transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures. The two countries have also agreed to prepare a framework for cooperation on reciprocal logistics support. As regards cooperation in the space sector, it was announced that Indian astronauts for the Gaganyaan manned mission will be trained in Russia. A commemorative stamp was also issued in Russia on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

    Posted on November 29, 2019

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.