Amid the West’s isolation of Moscow over the Ukraine crisis, India’s President Pranab Mukherjee is in Moscow to join in the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the allied victory in World War II – a trip that also reaffirms and underscores New Delhi’s solidarity with a time-tested partner that is sailing through difficult times.
Many world leaders, mostly from Western countries, have decided not to show up for Russia’s V-Day celebrations to register their protest over President Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine adventure. The representation from India at the presidential level, therefore, is a potent symbolic statement of the all-weather partnership between India and Russia and an assertion of New Delhi’s autonomous foreign policy.
The president, along with a contingent of Indian Army’s Grenadier Regiment, will take part in the parade down the Red Square on May 9. This will be the first time when a 75-member Indian army contingent will join the Russian troops in the parade during the commemorative ceremony of WWII.
Mr Mukherjee is also expected to hold talks with Mr Putin on a host of bilateral issues, including civil nuclear cooperation, defence ties and partnership in higher education. During his five-day stay in Russia, he will also inaugurate the “Namaste Russia” cultural festival, and be conferred an honorary doctorate by the Russian Diplomatic Academy.
Intensifying educational exchanges is high on the presidential agenda. The president is accompanied by heads of several top educational institutions, including Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, Directors of IIT Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. In addition, India’s Department of Science and Technology will also sign agreements with Russian Science Foundation. The two strategic partners are expected to sign nine memorandums of understandings and eight cooperation agreements in the area of higher education alone.
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