Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

[op-ed snap] Delhi needs to engage with Moscow on the unfolding Sino-Russian naval partnershipop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Russia in the Indian Ocean


Context

Russia is rejoining the major power scrum in the Indian Ocean littoral. 

Russia – Indian Ocean

    • Three recent events highlight Russia’s growing strategic interests in the Indian Ocean.
    • Perekop, a training vessel of the Russian Navy, arrived at the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. 
    • Last month two Russian long-distance “Black Jack” nuclear bombers flew to South Africa. 
    • The Russian and the Chinese are conducting a trilateral naval exercise, Moris, with South Africa off the Cape of Good Hope. 

Significance of the events

    • This is the first time that the three of India’s partners in the BRICS forum along with Brazil, are doing such a joint exercise. 
    • The exercise reflects the growing weight of China and Russia in South Africa’s security.
    • Iran has said that it plans to hold joint naval drills with Russia and China in the waters of the Persian Gulf.

India – Indian Ocean

    • Until now, India’s discourse on the Indian Ocean has focused on the growing competition with China.
    • This led to the rapid expansion of India’s naval cooperation with the United States and Japan, regional partners like Indonesia, Singapore, and other ASEAN countries, nations in the Gulf as well as the east coast of Africa.
    • India has been developing a partnership with France, which is a resident power and a traditional security provider in the Western Indian Ocean and Africa.
    • India also wants to develop similar intensive engagement with Britain and the European Union.

Role of Russia

    • Russia’s return to the Indian Ocean is recent.
    • It must be seen as a part of its new strategic activism in the Middle East and Africa. 
    • Five decades ago, the US replaced Britain as the main security provider in the littoral. The Soviet Union expanded its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean during the 1970s and 1980s. 
    • The collapse of the Soviet Union disrupted Moscow’s Indian Ocean pursuit.

Limits to Russia’s role

    • Russia is a vast continental state. Its limited access to the sea remains vulnerable to exploitation by its adversaries. 
    • The unfreezing Arctic will present new opportunities for Russia, but most of them are for the long-term. 
    • Russia is also constrained by its limited economic resources. China, Japan, Europe, and the US bring far greater economic weight to bear upon the region. 

Opportunities to shape outcomes in the region

    • Arms – Moscow is one of the world’s major arms exporters and has turned that into effective leverage in the Indian Ocean region.
    • Military intervention – The success of Russia’s military intervention in Syria in saving the Bashar al Assad regime got the attention of many countries coping with civil wars. 
    • The recent reports on Russia’s growing security role — such as the use of hybrid forces — in the Central African Republic, Libya, and Mozambique are a testimony to this.
    • MIlitary access – Russia is using its new security role in the region to gain privileged military access. Russia has stepped up its naval diplomacy in the region.
    • UNSC – As a permanent member, Russia also offers diplomatic protection for many regimes in the UNSC on such issues as human rights. 
    • Moscow’s strong support to the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs is of great value to many African nations.
    • Resources – Russian energy and mineral companies offer important options for resource development in many parts of the littoral.

Opportunities & Challenges – India

    • Russian activism in the Indian Ocean should be welcomed to the emerging multipolarity in the region. 
    • However, its deepening tensions with the West and the growing strategic embrace of China pose problems for India’s strategy.
    • The impact of Russia’s conflict with the US has impacted India’s purchase of S-400 missiles.
    • China and Russia have conducted naval maneuvers in the Western Pacific, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. The joint exercise with South Africa brings the naval partnership closer to India.

Way ahead

India needs an early and intensive dialogue with Moscow on its Indian Ocean collaboration with China.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Explained: How will purchases from Russia affect India-U.S. ties?Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CAATSA, S-400

Mains level : Implications of India's defense purchase from Russia


Context

Background

  • Exactly a year ago India and Russia signed a contract to buy the Russian Triumf missile system, concluding negotiations that began in 2015.
  • During that time, however, a new U.S. law, called “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” or CAATSA was passed by the U.S. Congress.
  • This transformed what should have been a straightforward bilateral deal into a complex trilateral balancing game for India.

About S-400 Triumf

  • The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system, capable of destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km.

How significant is the deal for New Delhi?

  • A year after PM Modi and Russian President Putin signed an agreement, the deal continues to cast a cloud over India-U.S. ties.
  • The agreement to purchase the Triumf missile system boosted India-Russia defence ties at a point of inflection last year.
  • Russia has traditionally been India’s biggest defence supplier, but was surpassed by the U.S. in the last few years, a fact that had added to a perceptible drift in bilateral ties.
  • The Indian Air Force has also backed the superior air defence system in that it will fill the gap in India’s particular needs: countering its main adversaries and neighbours, China and Pakistan’s growing air power, while dealing with a depleting stock of fighter aircraft.

Is India the only country facing CAATSA sanctions?

  • By coincidence, CAATSA has now been invoked by the US twice already, and both times for countries buying the Triumf system from Russia.
  • In September 2018, US announced sanctions for the procurement of the S-400 Triumf air defence system and Sukhoi S-35 fighter aircraft.
  • Washington expelled Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme in July this year after the first delivery of S-400s was received.
  • India is neither like China, which has an inimical relationship with the U.S., and hence not bound by its diktats, nor like Turkey which is a NATO ally of the US.

Is a sanctions waiver possible for India?

  • There is also an exit clause in CAATSA which states that the US President may waive the application of sanctions if the he/she determines such a waiver is in the national security interest of the US.
  • The U.S. Congress also modified the waiver clause to allow the President to certify that a country is cooperating with the US on other matters that are critical to its strategic national security interests.
  • It is no secret that US has misgivings about the CAATSA sanctions which were meant to curtail its own powers to deal with Russia, and the other countries included in the act — Iran and North Korea.
  • It is hoped that Mr. Trump will grant India a waiver on the deal, thanks to good bilateral relations with India and the fact that it is a “major defence partner” of the U.S.
  • Hence India expects to comply with Washington’s demands, and hence hopes to escape CAATSA sanctions.

What happens if a waiver is not granted?

  • Section 235 of the CAATSA stipulates 12 kinds of punitive sanctions against transactions in defence, energy, oil pipelines and cybersecurity technology with any of the U.S.’s “adversaries”.
  • According to the Act, the US may impose “five or more of the sanctions described”.
  • These measures include export sanctions, cancellation of loans from U.S. and international financial institutions, ban on investments and procurement, restrictions on forex and banking transactions, and a visa and travel ban on officials associated with any entity carrying out the sanctioned transactions.
  • None of these is expected to go into process until India takes delivery of the five S-400 systems it has paid an advance on, which are expected to begin in about 20 months and conclude by 2023.

Has India given the U.S. a fait accompli on the S-400?

  • India’s firm-footed response to the U.S. threat of sanctions on the Russian S-400 is in sharp contrast to its decision to “zero out” oil purchases from Iran, which were sanctioned by the U.S. last year.
  • It denotes that while the India is prepared to diversify its energy sources, it will not be bullied on its defence security options.
  • Given the stakes involved, the government hopes that the U.S. will put its burgeoning strategic, defence and business bilateral relationship with India above its rancour with Russia.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Eastern Economic ForumIOCR

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Sea route from Chennai to VladivostokPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the sea route

Mains level : India-Russia bilateral relations



  • During PM’s visit to Vladivostok this week, a MoI was signed to open a full-fledged maritime route between Russia’s eastern port city and Chennai on India’s eastern seaboard.

Vladivostok

  • In Russian, Vladivostok is ‘Ruler of the East’.
  • Located on the Golden Horn Bay north of North Korea and a short distance from Russia’s border with China, it is the largest port on Russia’s Pacific coast, and home to the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy.
  • It is the eastern railhead of the legendary Trans Siberian Railway, which connects the far east of Russia to the capital Moscow, and further west to the countries of Europe.
  • At Vladivostok’s massive port, shipping and commercial fishing are the main commercial activities.
  • Automobiles are a major item of import at the port, from where they are often transported further inland.

To Chennai, by sea

  • An ocean liner travelling from Vladivostok to Chennai would sail southward on the Sea of Japan past the Korean peninsula, Taiwan and the Philippines in the South China Sea, past Singapore and through the Strait of Malacca.
  • It will emerge into the Bay of Bengal and then cut across through the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago to Chennai.

Time and distance

  • This sea route covers a distance of approximately 5,600 nautical miles, or about 10,300 km.
  • A large container ship travelling at the normal cruising speed of 20-25 knots, or 37-46 km/hour, should be able to cover the distance in 10-12 days.
  • At suboptimal “slow steaming” speeds of 18-20 knots (33-37 km/hour), at which long-distance vessels sometimes travel to in order to save fuel, it might take slightly longer — 12-13 days.

Trade and strategy

  • India is building nuclear power plants with Russia’s collaboration in Kudankulam on the sea coast in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district.
  • The opening of a sea route is likely to help in the project.
  • Even otherwise, a vibrant sea route will help in the upscaling of trade relations between the two nations.
  • It will also increase India’s presence in the Indo-Pacific, and especially the South China Sea, a deeply contested patch of the ocean that Beijing considers its stomping ground.

Significance of the route

  • Opening of this route between Chennai and Vladivostok assumes significance because it ensures there will be connectivity between the two major ports.
  • It will give impetus to the cooperation between India and the Russian Far East.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

[op-ed snap] Taking a ‘Far East’ turn to deepen a friendshipop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mapping: Far East region

Mains level : Rebuilding India-Russia relations


  • Some 48 years ago, when the U.S. and British Navies tried to threaten Indian security during the India-Pakistan war in 1971, the Soviet Union dispatched nuclear-armed flotilla from its Pacific Fleet in support of India.
  • Ever since then, the city of Vladivostok, located in Russia’s Far East, has had a special place in the hearts of Indians.

The less developed Far East

  • The Far East lies in the Asian part of Russia and is less developed than the country’s European areas.
  • India’s plans to invest in Russia’s Far East, thus, paying back the long-held Indian debt to Vladivostok.
  • As part of his ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy, President Putin is inviting foreign countries to invest in this region.

Friends distanced with time

  • The country’s outreach to Asian nations has especially gained momentum after the 2014 Crimea crisis spoiled its relations with the West.
  • At the same time, the idea of an ‘Indo-Pacific region’, which signals India’s willingness to work with the U.S. mainly to counter China’s assertive maritime rise, has also left Russia concerned.
  • Moscow is apprehensive that the U.S. would exert pressure on India’s foreign policy choices and that it could lose a friendly country and one of the biggest buyers of Russian military hardware.

Convincing Russia for a multipolar Indo-Pacific

  • New Delhi, on its part, has maintained that Indo-Pacific is not targeted against any country and stands for inclusiveness and stability.
  • PM Modi made this clear to Mr. Putin during their Sochi informal summit in 2018.
  • Later, at the Shangri-La dialogue, he again emphasised that for India, Indo-Pacific is not a club of limited members and that New Delhi wants to have inclusive engagement with all the relevant stakeholders.
  • This constant engagement has borne fruit and the two countries are now working for a multipolar Indo-Pacific.

Russian stance

  • On its part, Russia also wants to make sure that China does not become a hegemon in the Eurasian region and is hence deepening cooperation with countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia.
  • India has also been able to convince Russia that its engagement with the U.S. is not going to come against Russian interests.

How Far East is game-changer?

  • The Far East has the potential to become an anchor in deepening India-Russia cooperation; more so considering that New Delhi has expanded the scope of its ‘Act East policy’ to also include Moscow.
  • The area has the potential to strengthen India-Russia economic partnership in areas like energy, tourism, agriculture, diamond mining and alternative energy.

India’s move forward

  • Modi’s visit to Vladivostok (coming Sept) would not be an event in isolation as both nations have been drawing up the plan to cooperate in the region in the last few years.
  • A bilateral business dialogue was included in the business programme of EEF in 2017 and, in 2018, India was one of the 18 countries for which Russia simplified electronic visas to encourage tourism in the Far East.
  • New Delhi will also provide an annual grant of $10,000 to fund the study of Indology at the Centre of Regional and International Studies at Far Eastern Federal University.
  • Also, a MoU has been signed between Amity University and Far Eastern Federal University to intensify cultural and academic exchanges in the areas of research and education.

The indispensable opportunity

  • A lack of manpower is one of the main problems faced by the Far East and Indian professionals like doctors, engineers and teachers can help in the region’s development.
  • Presence of Indian manpower will also help in balancing Russian concerns over Chinese migration into the region.
  • Further, India, one of the largest importers of timber, can find ample resources in the region.
  • Japan and South Korea have also been investing and New Delhi may explore areas of joint collaboration.

State-to-province ties

  • India has also given due importance to ‘paradiplomacy’ where Indian States are being encouraged to develop relations with foreign countries.
  • States like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana and Goa would be collaborating with Russian Provinces to increase trade and investments.
  • For India, there is immense potential for mid-sized and small businesses who should be assisted to overcome language and cultural barriers so that they successfully adopt local business practices.
  • A meeting between the heads of the regions of Russia and various Chief Ministers from Indian States may soon take place and this should become a regular feature.

Getting started

  • The two countries are also looking at the feasibility of Chennai-Vladivostok sea route that would allow India access to Russia’s Far East in 24 days, compared to the 40 days taken by the current route via Suez.
  • This route would potentially add the required balance to peace and prosperity in South China Sea and could open new vistas for India, like the India-Russia-Vietnam trilateral cooperation.

Way forward

  • Great power rivalry is back in international politics, making it more unpredictable.
  • It is time when U.S. is interested in ‘deglobalisation’ and China is promoting ‘globalization 2.0 with Chinese characteristics’.
  • It makes sense for India and Russia to increase their areas of cooperation and trade in order to hedge against disruptive forces and make their ties sustainable.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

[op-ed snap] On the edge of the big leagueMains Onlyop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : India to work on its soft powerd to have better standing at global forum.


 

History of alignments

Post world war

Post World War II, Japan, Germany and the UK were closely aligned to the US and other western European nations were also in the US camp through NATO. India’s non-alignment post Indira Gandhi became Soviet Union-leaning and the US moved closer to Pakistan as a check on the Soviets who had taken control of Afghanistan. One could have argued India made a bad choice, but frankly, we were not very exciting to the US and strong Soviet backing to India after the 1971 war allowed the liberation of Bangladesh.

Nineties Fashion

  • The collapse of the Soviet Union left us weak internationally and our economic policies had taken us into a major balance of payments crisis in 1991.
  • This was a blessing in disguise as it forced us to review both our economic policies and our global alignments.
  • With an IMF assisted structural adjustment programme, many parts of the economy were liberalised.
  • After the initial pain, we slowly moved away from the import substituting industry model we had followed and became a more market-friendly economy.

 

  • Two forces dominated the geopolitical context in the first decade of the 21 century — China and technology.
  • China became the second-largest economy in the world with its GDP going from $1 trillion to $10 trillion dollars in 15 years.
  • At the same time, the progress in technology was transformative on the back of massive computing power, ubiquitous high-speed connectivity, cheap and unlimited storage and the creation and capture of enough data to make machine learning intelligent and powerful.
  • As a result, technological power and cyber capabilities also became a superpower compulsion.
  • These two developments have led to a change in the basis of power and geopolitical alignment in today’s world. It has all happened in 15 years.

Evaluation of Power

  • Power now needs to be evaluated on four levels — military, economic, cyber and soft power.
  • Interestingly, now different countries lead in different areas, making alignment and geopolitics more complicated.
  • Militarily, it is still the the US and Russia in the lead.
  • China is a clear third.
  • In terms of economic power, the US leads followed by China, and Russia does not figure.
  •  Cyber power – In the cyber domain, five countries have established positions – the US, China, Russia, Israel and Iran and others are lagging. Consider the Russian attack on the US elections, the purported cyber-attack by the US on Iran, the banning of Huawei, Iranian cyber-attacks on the Saudis and China’s great strength in digital and artificial intelligence.
  • Soft Power – In soft power, the US leads but China and Russia don’t really feature. In fact, India has a play.

The multilayered strategy of India

  • If we just observe India’s actions, it is comforting to note we are following a multilayered strategy, walking a complicated tightrope.
  • We continue to ally with Russia on arms’ purchases with our purchase of the S-400 Air Missile System, despite the threat of American sanctions.
  • Economically, though, we are trying to get closer to the US and are not fighting their unilateral sanctions against Iran on oil, despite the substantial impact on our balance of payments.
  • It is both sad and ironic that despite our great capability in technology and our big presence in Silicon Valley, we lag in cyber preparedness at great risk to ourselves.
  • India’s movement on data localisation is needed. Even Europe has imposed the GDPR. But overall, we need to act fast.

India’s Soft power Vision

  • With soft power, India is doing better.
  • We are advancing with our music, food and Bollywood and are going beyond West Asia into the affluent Indian diaspora in the US and UK.
  • Getting the UN to recognise a World Yoga day has been a master stroke by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is a great first step but our inbound tourism still lags behind.

Conclusion

If we act, we are well positioned. Faster arms purchases, developing cyber capability and using technology to address major gaps in education and healthcare are needed. We have the opportunity but not the right to become a third major power. No one will give it to us.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

PM to get Russia’s highest civilian awardPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various awards mentioned

Mains level : India-Russia bilateral relations


  • Russia has announced  that it will confer its highest civilian award, the “Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First,” on PM Narendra Modi for his work on bilateral ties.

Why this award?

  • The order was presented to the PM for his distinguished contribution to the development of a privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India and friendly ties between the Russian and Indian peoples.
  • The Russian honour comes after a week of the Indian premier being awarded the UAE’s highest civilian award, the Zayed Medal, for his crucial role in boosting the strategic relationship between the two countries.

About the Award

  • The award was established in 1698 but it was abolished during the communist era, before being reinstated in 1998.
  • Since then, it has been awarded to 18 people, mostly Russians, such as AK-47 designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, former president Mikhail Gorbachev and author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Facts for Prelims

  • The Russian honour is the seventh international award conferred on Modi since he came to power in 2014.
  • The Zayed Medal by the UAE (2019), Grand Collar of the State of Palestine (2018), Amir Abdullah Khan Award is Afghanistan (2016) and Order of King Abdullaziz from Saudi Arabia (2016) are the most significant civilian awards given to the Indian prime minister by heads of Islamic nations.
  • He has also been awarded with the UN’s ‘Champions of the Earth’ Award for his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and pledge to eliminate single use plastic in India by 2022.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Russia ‘successfully’ tests hypersonic missileIOCR


Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  INF Treaty, Avangard System

Mains level: Recent trend of USA’s disregard of bilateral and multilateral treaties and its impact on India as well as global geopolitics


News

INF treaty pull-back implications

  1. Russia has a tested new type of strategic weapon, the intercontinental “Avangard” system.
  2. The hypersonic missile could fly at 20 times the speed of sound and manoeuvre up and down, meaning that it could breach defence systems.
  3. The final test comes after U.S. announced plans to pull out of a key Cold War-era nuclear weapons pact, the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Avangard hyper-sonic boost-glide missile system

  1. Avangard, also known as “Objekt 4202,” is supposed to combine a high-performance ballistic missile with an unmanned glider vehicle for significant improvements in maneuverability and sustained top speed.
  2. It is powered by a scramjet engine that accelerates it up to Mach 27.
  3. When approaching a target, the glider is capable of sharp high speed evasive maneuvers in flight making it “absolutely invulnerable for any missile defence system”.
  4. This technology allows Avangard missiles to travel at up to 20 Mach or approximately 24,700 km per hour.
  5. It is a speed made possible by the use of “new composite materials” to stay within a stable range of 1,600 to 2,000 degrees Celsius.
  6. Its boost-glider system grants it “lateral” and “vertical” evasive maneuvers by “several thousand kms.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

[op-ed snap] India and Russia: Salvaging a strategic partnershipop-ed snap


Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Shadow of US sanctions on India-Russia ties and how to balance both sides


Context

Indo Russia relations

  1. The shadow of America loomed over the India-Russia summit recently held in New Delhi
  2. The question that dominated the meet was whether or not the deal for the Russian air defence missile system, the S-400, would go through
  3. The contract for the S-400 was signed at the Delhi summit

Why worries about the deal?

  1. The U.S. has been publicly warning for months that this purchase could attract provisions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which authorises the U.S. government to impose sanctions on entities for “significant” defence transactions with Russia
  2. The sanctioned entity would be cut off from all business in the U.S. and with U.S. companies

Recent slack in ties

  1. Indian and Russian perspectives today differ on key issues in India’s neighbourhood — Pakistan, Afghanistan and China — and on India’s strategic linkages with the U.S., including on the Indo-Pacific
  2. The Joint Statement issued at the summit has the usual laundry list of priority areas of cooperation, including infrastructure, engineering, natural resources, space and technology
  3. It expresses the commitment to raise trade and investment to a level more commensurate with the potential

Opportunities for cooperation

  1. Russia is natural resources-rich and India is resource-hungry
  2. The U.S. and European sanctions on Russia between 2014 and 2016 are sector- and currency-specific
  3. With proper structuring of business deals, trade and investment exchanges with Russia are possible, and without losing business with Europe and America

No benefits for the US

  1. The threat to India-Russia defence cooperation extends well beyond the suspense over the S-400 deal
  2. Every potential India-Russia defence deal could be subjected to a determination on the applicability of sanctions
  3. Actually imposing sanctions would hurt U.S. defence sales to India, defeating one of the principal objectives of the legislation
  4. The effort by the US would likely be to achieve desired results with the threat of sanctions

Way forward

  1. The India-U.S. strategic partnership is based on a strong mutuality of interests, but it was not intended to have the exclusivity of an alliance
  2. India should not have to choose between one strategic partnership and another
  3. The India-Russia dialogue should not get inextricably entangled in the India-U.S. dialogue
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

[op-ed snap] Oldest friends: India and Russiaop-ed snap


Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Testing times for India-Russia bilateral relations and options available with India


Context

Russian President’s India Visit

  1. India-Russia summits have traditionally been short on time and ceremony and big on productivity
  2. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 22-hour visit to Delhi last week was no exception
  3. The two countries announced a number of agreements, including a $5.43 billion S-400 Triumf missile system deal, a space cooperation arrangement to put an Indian in space, and an action plan for a new nuclear plant

Exploring new avenues

  1. PM Modi and Mr. Putin also addressed a business summit, in an attempt to diversify ties and increase bilateral trade, currently below $10 billion
  2. Much of the fresh momentum in bilateral engagement will come from the energy sector
  3. Several billions of dollars worth of investment and energy deals are in the pipeline

Geopolitical implications of agreements done

  1. The signing of the S-400 air defence system deal is of far greater consequence than its size
  2. It denotes India’s desire to deepen defence cooperation with Russia which is prepared to do this despite U.S. warnings that the deal could attract sanctions
  3. This deal comes just a month after India signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) for better interoperability with the U.S. military is a sign that India will not be forced or even persuaded into putting all its eggs in one strategic basket

Difficulties ahead for India

  1. India chose to sign the S-400 deal but resisted concluding other major defence deals with Russia on helicopters, stealth frigates and assault rifles
  2. More defence deals with Russia will make it increasingly difficult for the U.S. to give India a waiver from sanctions under CAATSA, its legislation aimed at curtailing defence and energy dealings with Russia, Iran and North Korea
  3. Washington has already reacted to the S-400 deal, making it clear that any waiver will not be on a “country” basis, but on a “transaction-by-transaction” basis
  4. Accepting a waiver will implicitly commit India to reducing its intake of Russian military hardware

Way Forward

  1. New Delhi’s assertion of “strategic autonomy” and desire for multipolarity will be seriously tested in the coming months
  2. The situation can be much more complex when friends expect you to choose between them
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

India, Russia sign S-400 missile deal after summitPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Challenges to internal security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of S-400 System

Mains level: Protecting Indian airspace against neighborhood threats.


News

Context

  1. India and Russia concluded the contract for five S-400 ‘Triumf’ missile systems, one of the biggest defence deals in recent times.
  2. The announcement of the deal could attract sanctions from the United States, was made in a joint statement issued by both sides.

No pact on frigates

  1. The two sides failed to conclude two other major deals, for stealth frigates and assault rifles that were reportedly ready citing further negotiations.
  2. Significantly, the agreement for the estimated $5.43 billion (Rs. 40,300 crore) S-400 system was not referred to by either leader in their press statements.
  3. It was also the only agreement not included with eight others exchanged.

S-400 Coming Soon

  1. Deliveries of S-400 will begin in 24 months, at the end of 2020.
  2. India would pay about 15% in advance, likely through the rupee-rouble mechanism both countries use for trade in their own currencies.

Defying fears of US Sanction

  1. The U.S. has warned the deal would invoke sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law.
  2. It penalizes defence purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea, as soon as the first payment is made, unless US grants a “waiver.”
  3. Any waiver for the S-400 deal would only be considered on a “transaction-by-transaction basis
  4. The negotiations for S-400 preceded CAATSA by a long period of several years.
  5. It fulfils a certain defence requirement for India and the government has taken the decision in the national interest.

Back2Basics

S-400 Triumf

The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system, capable of destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km.

Why does India need S-400?

  1. India needs to be well-equipped against neighboring threats.
  2. Pakistan has over 20 fighter squadrons, with upgraded F-16s, and inducting J-17 from China in large numbers. China has 1,700 fighters, including 800 4-Gen fighters.
  3. A shortfall of fighter squadrons has severely affected IAF’s efforts to pose a challenge to the enemies.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

‘India, Russia stand united against terror’


Image Source

Note4students

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.


News

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”
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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

Back2basics:

Note4students:

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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

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.

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

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