The time-tested India-Russia relations are set to be reinvigorated and acquire a new shine, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi striking an optimistic note on the outcomes during his two-day visit, which begins December 23.
The December 23-24 visit of Mr Modi, his first bilateral visit to Russia since he took charge in May last year, is expected to impart the much-needed momentum to “special and privileged partnership” that has tended to drift into stagnation in recent months. Major deals in defence and energy are expected to be unveiled during the visit, which will reassert Moscow’s credentials as a key player in Make in India project and the country’s ongoing resurgence.
“I am very optimistic about the outcome of this visit. History is witness to the close ties India and Russia have had over the decades. Russia remains one of India’s most valued friends in the world,” said Mr Modi as he left for Moscow for his annual summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This is not Mr Modi’s first visit to Russia – in fact, he fondly recalled his visit to Moscow as the chief minister of Gujarat as part of then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s delegation in 2001. This year, Mr Modi visited the Russian city of Ufa to attend the BRICS summit, and also held bilateral talks with Mr Putin.
Outlining broad contours of his Moscow agenda, Mr Modi said: “My visit will deepen the cooperation between India and Russia in the economic, energy and security spheres. We also want to increase cooperation in science and technology, mining among other sectors.”
Two big-ticket defence deals are expected to signed, which includes a pact on the joint manufacturing of 200 Kamov helicopters and supply of cutting-edge S4 Triumf missiles to India. These deals will not only consolidate Russia’s status as the largest supplier of arms to India, but also India’s preferred partner in indigenising the country’s military-industrial complex.
Clearly, defence relations remain the bedrock of India-Russia relations, but the two sides will be looking to deepen economic content of the partnership, which has remained underleveraged. India’s bilateral trade with Russia is hovering around $10 billion, a dismal figure compared to India’s other major partners like the US. Mr Modi’s visit should help concretise plans to upscale bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2020-22. Mr Modi, for one, is quite hopeful. “Trade ties between India and Russia can increase even further, to benefit not only our two nations but also the world,” he said in a statement before his departure.
Mr Modi’s itinerary in Russia also includes an address to Friends of India, an improvised version of his diaspora show abroad, and a visit to Russia’s National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) in Moscow.
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