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India - Russia Relations

The relations between India and Russia are one of “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership” and the ongoing military contracts between the two sides will be maintained and in a number of cases will be taken forward in a shorter time, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on 24 June 2020. Rajnath Singh, who arrived in Moscow on a three-day visit at the invitation of the Russian Ministry of Defence to attend the 75th Anniversary of Victory Day Parade, said his visit to Moscow is the first foreign visit from India of an official delegation after the COVID pandemic. “This is a sign of our special friendship. Despite all the difficulties of the pandemic, our bilateral relations are keeping good contacts at the various levels,” Rajnath Singh said while addressing the media. India-Russia relations are one of Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership. Our defence relationship is one of its important pillars,” he said.

Lyubov Glazunova noted in 2021 that "the "special privileged strategic partnership" between Russia and India is devoid of content. It does not mean exclusivity: both states, to mutual displeasure, are increasingly cooperating with each other's rivals. This partnership did not lead to an increase in economic interaction. Nor did it radically solve the long-standing problems in the military-technical sphere. Until now, the coincidence of the foreign policy positions of Russia and India has been ensured not so much by natural proximity as by the absence of conflicting topics. It is easy for countries that are geographically distant, weakly connected economically and do not contradict ideologically to find a common language. But with the growing contradictions between China and India, such a topic emerged. Obviously, it will increasingly push Moscow and New Delhi into differing corners."

It is difficult to ascertain as to precisely how knowledge about India reached Russia in this period of history. Since ancient times India had been regarded in Russia as asymbol of wealth and wisdom, leading to the development of trade and culturalrelations thereafter. Till the 15th century, it was generally Indians who carried the torch of cultural heritage to Russia. Russian travelers began to visit India largely afterthe 15th century and acquainted themselves with the natural environment, the people, their way of life, th€ir languages, their religions and above all, the rich heritage of the country.

Friendly relations between the peoples of USSR and India, established in the common struggle against imperialism, for national freedom, and social progress during the first half of the 20th century, have developed into a many sided and forceful relationship between the two countries. These relations grew in the period after India gained independence. Even after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Indo-Russian relations had re-emerged irrespective of the political dispensation in Moscow and New Dehli. Since our Independence in 1947 all Governments in India accorded the highest priority to developing close relations with the people and Government of Russia.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, India was faced with the difficult task of reorienting its external affairs and forging relations with the fifteen Soviet successor states, of which Russia was the most important. The policy of over-dependence on the USSR coupled with an unrealistic assessment of the international situation by Indian strategists overburdened the policy makers of India in the 1990s. Moreover, the whole decade of the 1990s was spent by India in searching for international friends, securing new defence relationships and renewing old links with Russia.

Despite the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the relationship between India and Russia remained one of considerable importance to both countries. Since the early 1950s, New Delhi and Moscow had built friendly relations on the basis of realpolitik. India's nonalignment enabled it to accept Soviet support in areas of strategic congruence, as in disputes with Pakistan and China, without subscribing to Soviet global policies or proposals for Asian collective security. Close and cooperative ties were forged in particular in the sectors of Indian industrial development and defense production and purchases. But the relationship was circumscribed by wide differences in domestic and social systems and the absence of substantial people-to-people contact—in contrast to India's relations with the United States.

In 1993 New Delhi and Moscow worked to redefine their relationship according to post-Cold War realities. During the Januarv 1993 visit of Russian president Boris Yeltsin to India, the two countries signed agreements that signaled a new emphasis on economic cooperation in bilateral relations. The 1971 treaty was replaced with the new Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, wrhich dropped securitv clauses that in the Cold War were directed against the United States and China.

Yeltsin stated that Russia would deliver cryogenic engines and space technology for India's space program under a USS350 million deal between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Russian space agency, Glavkosmos, despite the imposition of sanctions on both organizations by the United States. In addition, Yeltsin expressed strong support for India's stand on Kashmir. A defense cooperation accord aimed at ensuring the continued supply of Russian arms and spare parts to satisfy the requirements of India's military and at promoting the joint production of defense equipment. Bilateral trade, which had fallen drastically during the 1990-92 period, was expected to revive following the resolution of the dispute over New Delhi's debt to Moscow and the May 1992 decision to abandon the 1978 rupee-ruble trade agreement in favor of the use of hard currency.

Pressure from the United States, which believed the engines and technology could be diverted to ballistic missile development, led the Russians to cancel most of the deal in July 1993. Russia did, however, supply rockets to help India to develop the technology to launch geostationary satellites, and, with cryogenic engine plans already in hand, the ISRO was determined to produce its own engines by 1997. Despite Yeltsin's call for a realignment of Russia, India, and China to balance the West, Russia shares interests with the developed countries on nuclear proliferation issues. In November 1991, Moscow voted for a Pakistani-sponsored UN resolution calling for the establishment of a South Asian nuclear-free zone. Russia urged India to support the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and decided in March 1992 to apply "full-scope safeguards" to future nuclear supply agreements.

Russia also shares interests with the United States in cooling antagonisms between India and Pakistan, particularly with regard to Kashmir, thus making it unlikely that India could count on Russia in a future dispute with Pakistan. Rao reciprocated Yeltsin's visit in July 1994. The two leaders signed declarations assuring international and bilateral goodwill and continuation of Russian arms and military equipment exports to India. Rao's Moscow visit lacked the controversy that characterized his May 1994 visit to the United States and was deemed an important success because of the various accords, one of which restored the sale of cryogenic engines to India.

Bilateral relations between India and Russia improved as a result of eight agreements signed in December 1994. The agreements cover military and technical cooperation from 1995 to 2000, merchant shipping, and promotion and mutual protection of investments, trade, and outer space cooperation. Political observers saw the visit of Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin that occasioned the signing of the eight agreements as a sign of a return to the earlier course of warm relations between New Delhi and Moscow. In March 1995, India and Russia signed agreements aimed at suppressing illegal weapons smuggling and drug trafficking. And when Russian nationalist Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky visited India in March 1995, he declared that he would give India large supplies of arms and military hardware if he were elected president of Russia.

The Declaration of Strategic Partnership signed in 2000 provided for close coordination of approaches to ensuring international peace and security and resolving pressing global and regional issues. The Strategic Partnership established at the beginning of the 21st century, and a shared desire to elevate this partnership to the level of a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership are more than mere phrases. They contain the blue-print for future co-operation. The Annual Summits provide the anchor for the relationship, from which flows the guidance to take ties forward. High-level meetings and consultations are needed to concretize the vision of leaders.

The BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are very different but share some common development goals. Skeptics the diverse group of nations as “an artificial bloc built on a catchphrase.” The term "BRIC” was coined by the investment bank Goldman Sachs in a 2001 research report. Foreign ministers from these four countries began to meet sporadically, first convening in 2006 during the sixty-first UN General Assembly in New York. The four BRIC countries later formed a political organization, which expanded in 2010 to include South Africa, hence the updated name - BRICS - the world's five largest developing economies.

India and Russia deepened economic and military cooperation, while New Delhi pressed its concerns about cross-border terrorism at the October 2016 summit of the BRICS countries in the western Indian city of Goa. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with the Russian and Chinese leaders on Saturday on the sidelines of the meeting of the five emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

After India and Russia signed a slew of defense and energy deals worth billions of dollars, Modi said “the highly productive outcomes of our meeting clearly establish the special and privileged nature of our strategic partnership.” His talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin are aimed at rejuvenating a relationship that appeared to have drifted in recent years as India deepened ties with the United States and Russia developed closer links with China and Pakistan.

The 16 agreements signed by New Delhi and Moscow included joint production of 200 military helicopters. India will also buy stealth frigates for its navy and a state of the art anti-missile air defense system that will strengthen its defenses along the border with Pakistan and China.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited St. Petersburg, Russia from 31st May to 2nd June for the 18th India-Russia Annual Summit. On 01 June 2017 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 18th Annual India-Russia Summit at St. Petersburg. Recalling his first visit to St. Petersburg as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, he said that the ties between India and Russia span the spectrum from Culture to Defence (Sanskriti se Suraksha). With a spotlight on economic ties, the two leaders interacted with CEOs from both countries. He also addressed the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) together with President Putin.

On the Defence side, the two continue to co-operate and Russia remains a major supplier of defence requirements. India appreciate Russia’s consistent support through the seven decades of partnership. At the same time, by 2017 there was an opportune time to move from a buyer-seller format to joint production and joint investments under Prime Minister’s "Make In India” initiative, in order to bring a new dynamism to the military-technical co-operation. India invited Russian defence industry to look at the new policies in this regard and to partner as India began a journey to become a defence manufacturer.

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Page last modified: 06-06-2021 18:16:02 ZULU