Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Eastern Economic Forum

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EEF

Mains level : Act Far East Policy of India


  • The Plenary Session of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was recently held in Vladivostok, Russia.

Eastern Economic Forum (EEF)

  • According to its website, the EEF was established by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in 2015.
  • It aimed for supporting the economic development of Russia’s Far East, and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The ongoing EEF Summit at the Far Eastern Federal University is the fifth in its history.
  • Among the participants in the Summit are India, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, and South Korea.
  • The Summits have roundtable conferences, panel sessions, business breakfasts, besides business dialogues and bilateral talks and agreements.

Achievements of EEF

  • In the last five years, as many as 17 different countries have invested in the Far East, according to the EEF website.
  • These include regional and global heavyweights like China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam.
  • As a result, 20 advanced special economic zones and five free ports have been put in place.
  • A total of 1,780 new investment projects, worth over 3.8 trillion rubles, and 230 new enterprises have become functional, the EEF website says.

India’s engagement with Russia

  • Indian firms have invested over $7 billion in taking stake in Russian oil and gas fields.
  • India ventured into Russia when its flagship overseas firm ONGC Videsh in 2001 acquired a 20 per cent stake in Sakhalin-1 oil and gas field in Far East Russia.
  • OVL later bought Imperial Energy, which has fields in Siberia, as also stakes in Vankor oilfield in eastern Siberia.
  • IOC and its partners have picked up 29.9 per cent stake in a separate Taas-Yuryakh oilfield in East Siberia.
  • Russian oil firm Rosneft in 2017 bought Essar Oil, which operates in Vadinar oil refinery in Gujarat and some 5,500 petrol pumps, for USD 12.9 billion.
  • Going beyond the bonhomie and historical ties, India is also a key customer of the Russian arms industry.
  • In March, India entered into a joint venture with Russia to manufacture the legendary Kalashnikov assault rifles in India.
  • In 2018, Russia sold the S-400 advanced air defence system to India.
  • India is interested in expanding the level of trade between the two countries. An area of special interest for India is the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves along the coast of Russia’s Far East.

India’s interest in the EEF

  • PM Modi has described the EEF as a “historic opportunity” to give new impetus to the cooperation between India and Russia.
  • He has said that the relationship between the two countries has “special chemistry, special ease”, even pointing out that Siberian cranes migrate to “my home state Gujarat”.

Extending to Act Far East Policy

  • The PM recalled that India was the first country in the world to open a consulate in Vladivostok, and underlined the age and depth of the country’s relations with the Far East.
  • Engaging closely with East Asia was in line with India’s policy goal of “Act East”.
  • PM also unveiled the “Act Far East” policy to boost India’s engagement with Russia’s Far East region.
  • This will also give a new dimension to our economic diplomacy.
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