India-Russia relations : Momentum in transforming Strategic Partnership
In late December, Indian Prime Minister made his first state visit to Russia to take part in the 16th annual bilateral summit. PM Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin used the summit to review bilateral ties across a number of areas. Let’s glance over revamped relations of India-Russia!
Can we have some background of bonding legacy?
- Relations with Russia are a key pillar of India’s foreign policy, and Russia has been a longstanding time-tested partner of India.
- India & Russia signed “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000.
- Under the Strategic Partnership, several institutionalized dialogue mechanisms operate at both political and official levels to ensure regular interaction and follow up on cooperation activities.
- During the visit of the Russian President to India in December 2010, the Strategic Partnership was elevated to the level of a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.”
Let’s dive into the PM’s visit for bilateral summit in Russia?
- With the signing of sixteen agreements, this is being seen as very significant in sustaining and expanding India-Russia ties.
- One major step taken is a deepening of India’s defense partnership with Russia for Make in India.
- On the eve of Modi’s visit to Russia, the Indian government announced the purchase of five S-400 supersonic air defense systems from Russia, costing around $6 billion.
- For instance, the two sides agreed that the Kamov 226 helicopter would be manufactured in India.
How will bilateral partnership boost Make in India programme?
- India and Russia agreed to strengthen the defense partnership in line with the “Make in India” program. So while only the public sector has been involved in defense cooperation between the two countries to date.
- The new initiatives will encourage joint manufacturing of defense products in India and motivate the private sector to play a role in developing a strong defense manufacturing base in India.
- It should be emphasized that “Make in India” also aims at having India emerge as an essential player in the global defense market.
- India is forecast to spend $250 billion over the next decade upgrading its military and Russia wants to seize the opportunity to become a major part of this mission, expressing its readiness to work jointly with India on defense manufacturing.
So, How does economic and trade cooperation matters in economic growth?
- Enhancing trade and economic cooperation between India and Russia is a key priority for the two governments.
- On the economic front, India and Russia decided to institutionalize the CEO’s Forum, which will meet twice a year – once in India and the other in Russia.
- During 15th Annual Summit, the two leaders set a target of US$30 billion bilateral trade by 2025.
- Hydrocarbons is an active area for exploring cooperation between the two countries.
- In May 2014, ONGC and Rosneft signed an MoU for bilateral cooperation in subsurface surveys, exploration, appraisal and hydrocarbons production in the offshore Arctic region of Russia.
- In September 2015, OVL signed an agreement with Rosneft to acquire 15% stakes in Vankorneft project.
Did you know about India-Eurasian Economic Union FTA?
- Moscow is a gateway for India to Central Asia.
- In this regard a significant move by PM Modi was the effort to move forward on the India-Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
- The EEU FTA will introduce the free movement of goods, capital, services and people-people contacts and provides for common transport, agriculture and energy policies, with provisions for a single currency and greater integration in the future.
- The FTA between India and the EEU comprises of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.
- It offers India access to a huge market with a population of over 180 million, with a joint GDP of an estimated $2.7 trillion.
- As Russia tries to re-calibrate its economic orientation towards the Asian region, India, as one of the fastest growing G20 economies can be a significant partner for Russia.
Shall we move into Political Relations?
- Annual Summit meeting is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism under the Strategic Partnership between India and the Russian Federation.
- So far, 15 Annual Summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia with the 15th Annual Summit held in New Delhi during the visit of President Putin to India on 11 December 2014.
- During the Summit, 20 documents were signed covering cooperation in nuclear energy, defence, hydrocarbons, science & technology, trade and investment etc.
- Prime Minister Modi and President Putin also adopted a Joint Statement “Druzhba-Dosti: A Vision for strengthening the Indian-Russian Partnership over the next decade.”
Let’s see our Defence Cooperation with Mighty Russia?
- India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer – seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.
- BrahMos Missile System, Joint design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, as well as the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks, are examples of such flagship cooperation.
- An Indian contingent participated in the military parade in Moscow on 9 May 2015, during the 70th anniversary of the victory in the World War II.
- The Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) is in place to review defence cooperation between the two countries.
Let’s know about importance of International North-South Trade Corridor (INSTC) ?
- The INSTC was initiated by Russia, India and Iran in September 2000.
- To establish transportation networks among the member states and to enhance connectivity with the land locked region of Central Asia.
- The North-South Transport Corridor is an ancient route that connected South Asia with North Europe for centuries.
- This route was used by the European, Indian, Russian and many other foreign traders.
- During the late 17th and early 19th centuries, Indian traders used this route to reach out to the Central Asian markets.
- The modern day INSTC is a multi-modal transportation route linking Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran, and onward to northern Europe via St. Petersburg in Russia.
How is it important to India to protect its strategic and economic interest?
- The INSTC envisages movement of goods from Mumbai (India) to Bandar Abbas (Iran) by sea, from Bandar Abbas to Bandar-e-Anzali (an Iranian port on the Caspian Sea) by road.
- Then from Bandar-e-Anzali to Astrakhan (a Caspian port in the Russian Federation) by ship across the Caspian Sea, and thereafter from Astrakhan to other regions of the Russian Federation and further into Europe by Russian railways.
- Given India’s strategic interests in the West and the Central Asian region, and need for greater economic and energy cooperation between South, Central and the West Asian region.
- New Delhi has stepped up its engagement to reconnect with its extended neighbourhood.
Was there any momentum on Nuclear power deal?
- Russia is an important partner in peaceful uses of nuclear energy and it recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable nonproliferation record.
- In December 2014, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Russia’s Rosatom signed the Strategic Vision for strengthening cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy between India and Russia.
- Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation.
- KKNPP Unit 1 became operational in July 2013, and attained full generation capacity on 7 June 2014.
- While its Unit 2 is in the process of commissioning in the later part of 2015.
- India and Russia have signed a General Framework Agreement on KKNPP Units 3 & 4 and subsequent contracts are under preparation.
What’s Next to the geopolitical space?
- Needless to say, defence remains at the centre-stage of the bilateral relationship, although with a diversified supplier base India is at a better position today to negotiate deals with Russia especially concerning technology transfer and co-production.
- A sharp rise in Russia-China defense ties, the assertive foreign policy of a rising China in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, and the China-Pakistan nexus will all encourage India to continue to strengthen ties with Russia.
- It is clear that India-Russia relations remain vital for both countries amid a changing regional and global security environment.
Published with inputs from Arun