INDIA-RUSSIA: A PRIVILEGED PARTNERSHIP
Russia has been a longstanding and time-tested partner for India. The development of India-Russia relations has been a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. The signing of the “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000, provided additional impetus to bilateral ties and contributed towards the enhancement of cooperation in almost all areas of the bilateral relationship. The strategic partnership between the two countries has promoted the development of institutionalized dialogue mechanisms at various levels in order to strengthen bilateral interaction and follow up on activities related to cooperation in different areas. 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.”
Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation meet annually for the Annual Bilateral Summit which is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between the two countries. Eighteen Annual Summit meetings have taken place till now. These meetings take place alternatively in Russia and India. PM visited Russia in June 2017 for the 18th Annual Summit, which took place in St. Petersburg and resulted in the conclusion of 12 documents related to cooperation over a very wide range of activities. The 18th Summit also witnessed the adoption of the ‘St. Petersburg Declaration’ which not only highlights the multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries but also provides a comprehensive matrix for future cooperation. During this visit, PM had a separate meeting with governors of sixteen Russian regions where they discussed various aspects related to the enhancement of cooperation between Indian and Russian regions. PM also participated in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum as the Guest of Honour. Apart from this event, PM also had a number of meetings on the sidelines of SPIEF which included interaction with the Federal Chancellor of Austria, Prime Minister of Mongolia, Secretary General of UN, and the Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission. Earlier, President Putin visited India in October 2016 for participation in the 17th Annual Bilateral Summit and the BRICS Summit in Goa.
There is regular high-level interaction between the two countries. The two Inter- Governmental Commissions – one on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), cochaired by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) from the Indian side and Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) from the Russian side, and another on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC- MTC), co-chaired by the Russian and Indian Defence Ministers, meet annually. The Inter- Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) and its Working Groups and Sub-Groups review defence cooperation between the two countries. The 17th Meeting of IRIGC – MTC took place in Moscow on June 23, 2017. Raksha Mantri, Mr. Arun Jaitley co-chaired this meeting with Defence Minister, Mr. Sergei Shoigu. DPM Mr. Dmitry Rogozin had visited India in September 2016 to co-chair the 22nd session of the IRIGC-TEC with EAM. In 2017, DPM Mr. Dmitry Rogozin visited India for the meeting of Co-Chairs of IRIGC-TEC on May 10, 2017.
The year 2017 has been marked by a number of high level visits and events between India and Russia which have helped in the further consolidation of bilateral relations. Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Dmitry Rogozin led a large Russian delegation to the Vibrant Gujrat Summit in January 2017, and called on PM. NSA, Mr. Ajit Doval visited Russia on January 30-31, 2017 and met the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Mr. Nikolai Patrushev. Foreign Secretary Mr. S. Jaishankar visited Russia for Foreign Office Consultations on March 16-17, 2017. Deputy NSA Mr. Arvind Gupta visited Russia in March 2017 and met his counterpart. He also attended the 4th International Arctic Forum Meeting in Arkhangelsk. Russian Minister for Industry and Trade, Mr. Denis Manturov visited India in March 2017. He jointly inaugurated the International Engineering Sourcing Show – 2017 with CIM, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman in Chennai. He later attended the first-ever India-Russia Military Industrial Conference in Delhi on March 17-18, 2017, and also had a separate meeting with Raksha Mantri.
Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Yury Trutnev visited India in March 2017. He met EAM in Delhi. Raksha Mantri, Mr. Arun Jaitley attended the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security on 25-26 April 2017. He also had a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart during this visit. Raksha Mantri again visited Russia on 21-23 June 2017 and also co-chaired the first ever meeting of the India-Russia High-Level Committee on Science and Technology held in Novosibirsk. NSA visited Russia again in May 2017 to attend the 8th International Meeting of High Level Officials Responsible for Security Matters in Zavidovo. He also had a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart. Earlier in 2016, EAM held separate bilateral meetings with DPM Rogozin and Foreign Minister, Mr. Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the 14th Russia- India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers meeting in Moscow on 18 April 2016. Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha Smt. Sumitra Mahajan led a delegation of Members of Parliament of India to Russia for the 4th India-Russia Inter-Parliamentary Commission meeting on 11 July 2017. Hon’ble Speaker met the Chairman of the State Duma Mr. V.V. Volodin, and the Chairperson of the Federation Council Ms. Valentina Matvienko in Moscow. She also addressed the Plenary Meeting of the State Duma in Moscow on 12 July 2017.
India and Russia have traditionally enjoyed a very comprehensive partnership in the area of defence. Military-Technical Cooperation between the two countries encompasses a very broad range of activities which include joint research, development, and production of advanced defence technologies and systems. The development of the BrahMos Missile System as well as the production of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks in India are examples of such flagship cooperation. During the 17th Annual Summit, the sides concluded agreements for the supply of S-400 air defence systems, construction of frigates under Project 1135.6, and shareholders agreement on the formation of joint venture to manufacture Ka-226T helicopters in India. The two countries also hold exchanges and training exercises between their armed forces annually. The joint military exercise ‘Indra 2016’ was held in the Ussuriysk District in Vladivostok from 22 September-02 October 2016. The annual bilateral naval exercise ‘Indra – Navy’ took place off the coast of Vishakhapatnam on 14-21 December 2016. Both sides have also decided to hold the first ever tri-services exercises in the year 2017. A roadmap for the development of bilateral defence cooperation was signed during the 17th Meeting of the IRIGC-MTC. The first ever India-Russia Military Conference took place in Delhi in March 2017.
Russia and India have developed very significant ties in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy. Both countries concluded the Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in December 2014. Russia and India are also working together to build the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) which will comprise of six individual units upon completion. Two such units (KKNPP Units 1 and 2) have already become operational. PM and President Putin jointly dedicated them to the nation on separate occasions through video conferencing. They also initiated the concrete pouring for Units 3 & 4 through videoconference on October 15, 2016. Construction of Units 3 & 4 is currently underway. The agreement for KKNPP Units 5 & 6 was concluded during the 18th Annual Bilateral Summit in St. Petersburg in June 2017. Earlier, an agreement on localization of manufacturing of nuclear equipment in India was signed during the Annual Summit in December 2015.