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Are India and Russia indispensable allies in an ever changing world? India Russia 21st Annual Summit

Are India and Russia indispensable allies in an ever changing world? India Russia 21st Annual Summit


  • GS 2 || International Relation || India & Rest of the World || Russia

Why in news?

India- Russia Joint Statement following the visit of the President of the Russian Federation

Present context:

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday that India expects the 21st annual India-Russia summit to yield major results.
  • After meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov ahead of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue, Jaishankar made these statements.

India-Russia Relation:

History of the relation:

  • India has had a long and successful relationship with Russia. India’s foreign policy has prioritised the growth of India-Russia relations.
  • On August 9, 1971, India and the former Soviet Union signed a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation.
  • India-Russia ties have taken on a qualitatively new character since the signing of the “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000, with increased levels of cooperation in almost all areas of the bilateral relationship, including politics, security, defence, trade and economy, science and technology, and culture.

Political Relations:

  • High-level interactions between the two countries occur on a regular basis. Annual meetings of two Inter-Governmental Commissions are held: one on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological, and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), co-chaired by EAM and the Russian DPM, and the other on Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC- MTC), co-chaired by Russian and Indian Defence Ministers.
  • India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group has long been supported by Russia.

Defence and Security Cooperation:

  • Military-technical cooperation: In the realm of defence, India and Russia have a long and fruitful relationship. Military-technical cooperation between India and Russia has progressed from a buyer-seller model to one that involves collaborative research, development, and manufacture of modern defence technologies and systems.
  • Flagship cooperation: Examples of flagship cooperation include the BrahMos Missile System and the licenced production of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks in India.
  • Defence systems: Both parties reached agreements on the delivery of S-400 air defence systems, the construction of frigates under Project 1135.6, and the founding of a joint venture in India to manufacture Ka-226T helicopters.
  • Annual exchanges and training exercises between the two countries’ military forces are also held.
  • From October 19 to 29, 2017, Vladivostok hosted the first-ever Tri-Services exercise, dubbed “INDRA 2017.”

Economic and trade relations:

  • The leaders on both sides have selected intensifying trade and economic cooperation as a priority area, as evidenced by revised targets of boosting bilateral investment to $50 billion and bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025.

Nuclear Energy:

  • In the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Russia is a key partner for India. It acknowledges India as a country with advanced nuclear technology and a perfect nonproliferation record.
  • The Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy was agreed by DAE and Russia’s Rosatom in December 2014.

Space Cooperation:

  • Cooperation between India and Russia in the realm of peaceful applications of space extends back nearly four decades.
  • Both sides work together on peaceful uses of space, such as satellite launches, GLONASS navigation systems, remote sensing, and other social uses of space.

Science and Technology (S&T):

  • The IRIGC-TEC Working Group on Science and Technology, the Integrated Long Term Programme (ILTP), and the Basic Science Cooperation Programme are the three main institutional mechanisms for bilateral Science and Technology cooperation, while the two countries’ Science Academies encourage inter-academy exchanges.

Cultural Cooperation:

  • In Russia, there is a long history of Indian studies. Roughly 1500 Russian students are taught Hindi on a daily basis by about 20 Russian institutions, including renowned universities and schools.
  • Other languages taught in Russian institutions include Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Urdu, Sanskrit, and Pali.
  • Russians have a tremendous interest in Indian dance, music, yoga, and Ayurveda.

Importance of Russia for India:

  • China’s Balancing Act: China’s assertiveness in eastern Ladakh’s border areas pushed India-China relations to a breaking point, but it also revealed that Russia can help defuse tensions with China.
    • Following violent confrontations in the Galwan Valley in the disputed territory of Ladakh, Russia convened a trilateral conference of Russia’s, India’s, and China’s foreign ministries.
  • Emerging New Sectors of Economic Engagement: Apart from conventional fields of collaboration such as weaponry, hydrocarbons, nuclear energy, and diamonds, new sectors of economic involvement, such as mining, agro-industrial, and high technology, such as robots, nanotechnology, and biotechnology, are anticipated to emerge.
    • India’s presence in the Russian Far East and the Arctic is expected to grow. Projects involving connectivity may also benefit.
  • Terrorism: India and Russia are striving to reduce the gap on Afghanistan and are pressing for the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to be finalised as soon as possible.

India’s Importance to Russia:

  • Balancing China: At the moment, Russia and China are in a quasi-alliance. Russia, on the other hand, has made it clear that it does not consider itself a junior partner to anyone. That is why Russia desires India to serve as a counterbalance.
  • Russia’s Far East, for example, is a vast area rich in resources but poorly populated and underdeveloped.
  • Russia seeks to diversify its economy with the support of India in order to reduce its growing reliance on China.
  • Reviving the Eurasian Economic Union: Russia wants to use India’s soft power to win credibility in the Eurasian Economic Union’s success and reclaim its primacy from the Cold War era.

Main Challenge:

  • India Going West: In response to China’s expansionist foreign policy, India has actively pursued deeper connections with the West, particularly the United States.
  • A resolute relaunch of the Quad process and a clearer enunciation of a free and inclusive Indo-Pacific reflect this.
  • Russia Going East: Following Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, Western countries slapped tough economic sanctions on the country.
  • In response to these attempts to isolate it, Russia accelerated its own “Pivot to the East.”
  • The most notable outcomes are significantly improved relations with China, as well as stronger connections with Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan.
  • Russia’s Pivot to the East policy does not align with that of the United States, and as a result, the India-Russia relationship suffers.

Way Forward:

  • Befriending the Best Friend: If relations between Washington and Moscow improve, the structural restrictions created by the great power dynamic and widely differing perceptions of the regional security situation could be alleviated.
    • A less conflictual relationship between the two will be a big relief for India; also, if India’s relations with China were more peaceful and stable, the US-China fight for power or Russia’s deepening links with China would have mattered less to India..
  • Connecting with Russia’s Far East: Another driver in the strategic cooperation is connectivity, which has underlying commercial benefits as well as overall economic development.
    • Parallel to the multimodal International North-South Transport Corridor, the proposed Chennai–Vladivostok Maritime Corridor (CVMC) will bolster India’s strategic intent in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region, with a naval presence securing India’s energy and trade shipments from Russia’s Far East..
    • Siberia, the Arctic, and the Far East have some of the world’s greatest stocks of hydrocarbons, metallurgical coke, rare-earth metals, and precious metals.
    • India and Russia can collaborate with countries such as Japan and Korea to boost cooperative exploration in the Far East, Arctic, and Siberia..
  • Energy Sector Cooperation: Given the unknowns surrounding climate change, India should speed its energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
    • Russia, as one of the most important global participants in the energy market, might become an essential partner in such a transformation.
    • Fortunately, both countries have a long history of bilateral collaboration in the energy sector, but additional efforts are obviously needed to expand cooperation.
  • Using Multilateral Institutions to Improve Relations: Promote mutually beneficial trilateral collaboration between Russia, China, and India, which might help reduce mistrust and suspicion between the two countries. The SCO and RIC trilateral forums should be used in this context.


Despite the fact that neither India nor Russia has the capacity to prevent each other from doing business with their rivals, neither Delhi nor Moscow has any reason to be satisfied with the state of their commercial relations. India and Russia should focus on laying out a clear path for enhanced economic cooperation and gaining a deeper understanding of each other’s Indo-Pacific interests to kick-start their relationship.

Mains oriented question:

Discuss the important elements that have contributed to the deterioration of India-Russia relations, as well as the approaches that the two countries might take to rekindle their long-standing bilateral relationships. (200 words)