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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

Any doubts?

  1. vinay wakhare

    That’s rite but even curbing the debt/ deficit is an important thing. It has the fiscal consolidation target as well. After all its the political economy decision devesh. Even if the international price is low, to pass on the benefits to the customer in the Indian case is like a distant dream. Lets hope for best.

  2. Devesh Tiwari

    as international prize of crude oil is very low, its best time to acquire large amount of oil fields (aggressively )to insure future low cost energy consumption, but sadly government is applying more cess and tax on PSUs to fill their current debt.

‘India, Russia stand united against terror’

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The statements by the envoy shows consistent support of Russia to India on different fronts.


Russia’s support to India

  1. Russia’s relation with India is “privileged and strategic” and Russia shares India’s counter-terrorism concerns, a statement by the newly appointed envoy of Russia to India
  2. He also said, “We stand united on majority of issues [with India] including the [UN] comprehensive convention on counter-terrorism”
  3. Newly appointed envoy of Russia to India: Nikolay Kudashev

Statement on the OBOR

  1. On this he said, “OBOR is an economic venture. We favour China and India coming to an understanding for the preferred route on this”

No ‘secret talks’ with Pak. on CPEC: Russia

  1. Source: Russian Foreign Ministry statement
  2. It said that the possibility of Russia joining this CPEC initiative is not being discussed with Islamabad
  3. It denied the reports in Pakistani media about it holding “secret talks” with Pakistan



This news helps to correct the earlier reports of Russia being involved in CPEC. Through this you can understand how misinformation is spread in international relations. Hence, unless you read official statements, it helps to be sceptical to some degree.

Pakistan approves Russia’s request to use strategic Gwadar Port

  1. Event: Pakistan has approved Russia’s request to use the strategic Gwadar Port for its exports
  2. This signals a new alignment in bilateral relations after decades’ of sour ties during the Cold War era
  3. Pakistan is eager to improve its ties with Russia to diversify its defence purchase options in light of its worsening relations with the U.S.

Russia-Pak.-China forum clouds Afghan donor meet II

  1. The separate consultation in Moscow fuels speculation of a growing Russia-China-Pakistan axis
  2. In Sept, India made its displeasure known when Russian troops went ahead with military exercises, their first such engagement in Pakistan, just days after the Uri attack
  3. Despite India’s requests during the BRICS summit, Russia and China refused to insert specific references to “cross-border” terror that targets India in the final statement

Russia-Pak.-China forum clouds Afghan donor meet I

  1. What: India’s traditional ally, Russia, is working on a regional partnership on Afghanistan that includes Pakistan and China
  2. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced the meeting of ‘Russia-China-Pakistan’ consultations to be held in Moscow in Dec
  3. India and Iran are not included in the consultations
  4. Significance: The announcement comes just ahead of the 13-nation ‘Heart of Asia’ donor conference for Afghanistan
  5. It is due to be held in Amritsar on December 3 and 4

India, Russia to hold more defence talks

  1. What: India and Russia have agreed on measures to broad-base military cooperation
  2. Context: India said Russia are trying to reaffirm their friendship in light of evolving relations with others countries
  3. India has submitted a non-paper to the Russian side
  4. It proposes a series of steps such as more military-to-military dialogue, exercises, staff-level talks and joint development
  5. One of the focus areas is to do more training and hold more exercises on a regular basis

India, Russia to set up agro irradiation centres

  1. Expanding cooperation in civil nuclear energy, India and Russia are collaborating to set up integrated irradiation centres in India
  2. Aim: To reduce agricultural losses
  3. Irradiation: Food products are subjected to a low dosage of radiation to treat them for germs and insects, increasing their longevity and shelf life
  4. Losses: In India, post-harvest losses in food and food grains are around 40-50%
  5. Reasons: These are primarily due to insect infestation, microbiological contamination, physiological changes due to sprouting and ripening, and poor shelf life
  6. There are a few low level irradiation plants in the country, which are not adequate.
  7. Safety: The irradiation doses are recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the final product is absolutely safe.

Putin says India ‘privileged strategic partner’, to ink weapon deal

  1. Russian President: Russia remains one of India’s leading suppliers of advanced weapons and defence technology as ‘India is Russia’s especially privileged strategic partner’
  2. Putin and PM Modi are expected to sign an agreement on the delivery of S-400 ‘Triumph’ anti-missile defence systems and other deals during the BRICS Summit in Goa this weekend
  3. Russia has deployed the S-400, its most modern air defence system, for the bombing campaign Syria.
  4. Russia remains in the lead in terms of both direct supplies of most advanced weapons and military equipment and conducting joint researches with India, as well as producing goods for military purposes
  5. The construction of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and the development of a new, fifth generation fighter aircraft are among the successful joint projects

India unhappy over Russia-Pakistan ties

  1. News: India’s ties with Russia are likely to be affected if Moscow continues to expand military relations with Islamabad
  2. Indian Ambassador to Russia: Warned of problems ahead in bilateral ties, even as both sides planned a major summit on the sidelines of the upcoming Goa BRICS summit
  3. Have conveyed to the Russian side that military cooperation with Pakistan, which is a state that sponsors and practises terrorism as a matter of state policy, is a wrong approach

Putin tightens control with big win for ruling party

  1. Context: Elections for Russian Parliament (Duma)
  2. The ruling United Russia party took three quarters of the seats in Parliament
  3. It paves the way for Putin to run for a fourth term as President
  4. Vote of Confidence: This is its biggest ever majority for the party

India, Russia to conclude helicopter deals this year

  1. Context: The two countries had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement in Dec 2015, for joint production of the Kamov-226T utility helicopter in India
  2. News: India and Russia to conclude 2 helicopter deals together worth over $ 2 billion by year end
  3. Kamovs will replace Cheetah and Chetak helicopters which are in service with military for many decades
  4. Importance: It is the first project for a major defence platform under the Make in India mission
  5. Russia has already selected Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as the Indian partner for the deal

Russia encouraging Provinces to develop ties with India

  1. In a bid to take ties with India beyond the defence sector, Russia is giving more freedom to its Provinces to engage with Indian States directly.
  2. Provinces have been given free hand to deal with India in the fields of agriculture, health, education, cultural cooperation.
  3. There is growing competition among provinces to take advantage of the positive trend in India-Russia ties.
  4. Provinces like Mordovia and Astrakhan compete to benefit from overall bilateral ties.

Rosneft, Indian firms to focus on exploring oil fields in East Siberia

Agreement focuses on cooperation for onshore geological survey, exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the Russian Federation, said Rosneft.

  1. This deal will initially focus on exploring fields in East Siberia, operated by Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha LLC.
  2. Gives additional impulse to the development of one of the largest greenfields of East Siberia.
  3. Besides, Rosneft and ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC), signed an agreement.
  4. Both firms also signed a deal for joint survey, exploration and production of hydrocarbons onshore and on the continental shelf of the Russian Federation.

Make in India to be at the centrestage of India-Russia strategic relationship

Russia is the first country to have agreed to take the initiative under the “Make in India” umbrella in two key strategic sectors, nuclear and defence.

  1. New Delhi and Moscow decided to build nuclear reactor components and military helicopters in India.
  2. The agreement is expected to result in the construction of 12 atomic plants with the involvement of Indian firms.
  3. Inter-Governmental Agreement on the manufacture of Kamov-226 helicopters in India is the first project for a major defence platform under the Make-in-India mission.

Russian defence choppers to be ‘made in India’

  1. India and Russia decided to expand cooperation across various sectors as they signed 16 pacts.
  2. Both nations vow to increase bilateral trade and defence deals and augment implementation of decisions.
  3. The deals include joint manufacture of 226 military helicopters and construction of 12 atomic plants with involvement of local companies in India.
  4. The two country aims to increase the current bilateral trade of $10 bn to $30 bn in next 10 years.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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