Indian PM on a Two-Day Visit to Moscow


12:47 PM

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • What Makes the Indian PM’s Visit to Russia Special this Time?
  • Significance of the Indian PM’s Visit to Russia
  • Key Areas of Engagement Between India - Russia
  • Challenges for India in Maintaining its Ties with Russia
  • Way Ahead for India

Why in News?

  • The Indian Prime Minister will be on a crucial 2-day visit to Moscow for the India-Russia annual summit, which has been ongoing since 2000.

What Makes the Indian PM’s Visit to Russia Special this Time?

  • First since Russia's invasion of Ukraine:
    • This will be the first bilateral meeting between the Indian PM and Russian President Vladimir Putin since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
    • The two leaders have met a total of 16 times since 2014. The Indian PM last went to Russia for the Eastern Economic Forum meeting in Vladivostok in (Sept) 2019.
    • The Russian President last visited India in December 2021 for the annual bilateral summit.
  • Traditions broken:
    • In choosing Russia for his first bilateral visit after being sworn in, the Indian PM has broken with the tradition of India’s new PM travelling first to a neighbouring country.
    • For example, he visited Bhutan in June 2014 and Maldives and Sri Lanka in June 2019.
    • He travelled to Italy last month, but that was for a multilateral meeting of G7 leaders.

Significance of the Indian PM’s Visit to Russia:

  • A foreign policy priority:
    • Russia and India relationship is seven decades old. The USSR era generosity and friendship has been carried over to the relationship with Russia.
    • The strategic partnership's strongest pillar is unquestionably defence today, but collaboration in space and nuclear matters is also significant.
  • Global significance: Their bilateral meeting comes around the same time as leaders of the 32 nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) gather in Washington DC to celebrate 75 years of the anti-Russia military alliance.
  • Russia’s deepening ties with China:
    • Over the years, as India has diversified its relationships in a multi-polar world, the India-Russia relationship has stagnated in some areas.
    • On the other hand, Russia is getting closer to China, which has provided a diplomatic and economic lifeline for Moscow during the western sanctions imposed due to its conflict with Ukraine.
    • Though Russia does not transfer to any other country the military technologies shared with India, India must constantly verify the weaponry and technologies that Moscow supplies to Beijing.

Key Areas of Engagement Between India - Russia:

  • Defence:
    • The USSR was India’s main supplier of defence equipment during the decades of the Cold War.
    • Today, 60 - 70% of India’s defence equipment is estimated to be of Russian and Soviet origin.
    • Defence cooperation has evolved over time from a buyer-seller framework to one involving joint R&D, co-development and joint production.
    • India and Russia have signed agreements for
      • The supply of S-400 Triumf mobile surface-to-air missile systems, MiG-29 fighter aircraft, and Kamov helicopters, and
      • The licensed production of T-90 tanks, Su-30MKI fighters, AK-203 assault rifles, and BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
    • The INS Vikramaditya, one of the Indian Navy’s two aircraft carriers, is the former Soviet and Russia warship Admiral Gorshkov.
  • Oil boost:
    • Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, India has been buying large amounts of Russian oil at a discount to cushion the inflationary impact of rising crude prices.
    • In the face of international criticism, the Indian External Affairs Minister reiterated that India would continue to buy Russian oil in the interest of Indian consumers.
  • Trade:
    • The purchase of Russian crude has pushed bilateral trade volumes beyond expectations and targets.
    • Before the war, the bilateral trade target was set at $30 billion by 2025. However, bilateral trade reached an all-time high of $65.70 billion in FY 2023-24.

Challenges for India in Maintaining its Ties with Russia:

  • Balance of trade heavily in Russia’s favour: India’s imports from Russia amounts to $61.44 billion. These were mostly made up of Russian oil and petroleum products, fertilisers, mineral resources, precious stones and metals, and vegetable oils.
  • Walking diplomatic tightrope:
    • New Delhi has not explicitly condemned the Russian invasion but expressed concern over threats of nuclear war issued by Russian leaders.
    • India has abstained from voting against Russia in several resolutions at the UNSC.
  • Maintaining ties with western nations:
    • The Russia-Ukraine war has put India in a delicate diplomatic position with its Western allies.
    • This is evident from a series of meetings between India and the West, just before the Indian PM’s visit to Russia.
  • Looked upon as mediator: There is a perception that India is positioning itself as a neutral player that could be a mediator between Russia and Ukraine.
  • Presence of Indians in Russia:
    • Some of the Indians in Russia are believed to have been “misled” into joining the war in Ukraine.
    • New Delhi has asked for their early discharge, and the issue is expected to be discussed during the Indian PM’s visit.

Way Ahead for India:

  • India’s core concern will be its defence relationship with Russia.
  • The Moscow-Beijing embrace is against Indian strategic interests.
  • Therefore, the Indian PM’s visit will seek
    • To strengthen historical ties between the two countries, and
    • To ensure that Beijing does not become a factor in the relationship

Q.1. How has Russia helped India in space?

India-Russia vibrant space partnership includes space propulsion engineering, cryogen engine construction, satellite navigation, and establishing ground stations for receiving communication signals.

Q.2. What is the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS)?

The RELOS between India and Russia will facilitate various military exchanges, including exercises, training, port calls, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

Source: PM Modi to visit Russia at time when Moscow is deepening embrace with China | IE