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Visit of External Affairs Minister to Russia

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • The Minister of External Affairs of India concluded a five-day visit to Russia, engaging in discussions on crucial geopolitical issues.
  • The talks covered a spectrum of topics, including concerns in the Indo-Pacific region, the Ukraine crisis, and the Israel-Gaza conflict. 

Key Takeaways from the Visit

  • A Protocol on Consultations was signed for the next four years (2024-2028), outlining plans for cooperation in economic, energy, connectivity, military-technical, and people-to-people exchanges.
  • Significant agreements related to the construction of future power-generating units at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant were signed.

India-Russia Ties

Background

  • Historical ties between India and Russia were established in the mid-1950s and strengthened during the Cold War era, particularly due to conflicts with Pakistan.
  • The Soviet Union played a pivotal role in mediating cease-fires and supporting India at the United Nations during conflicts.
  • The relationship was formalized with the signing of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation in 1971, which was later replaced by the Treaty of Indo-Russian Friendship and Cooperation in 1993.
  • The declaration of the India-Russia Strategic Partnership in 2000 further solidified the bilateral relationship.

Security Council Cooperation

  • Both nations maintain close cooperation between their Security Council secretariats, led by the National Security Advisors (NSA).
  • Regular bilateral consultations are held, and meetings occur on the sidelines of various multilateral events.

Trade and Economic Cooperation

  • The India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific & Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) serves as the primary mechanism for enhancing trade and economic cooperation.
  • The India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) is another significant government-to-government mechanism.
  • Bilateral trade reached an all-time high of $18.23 billion from April to August 2022, with India’s imports at $17.23 billion and exports to Russia at $992.73 million.
  • Russia is a significant supplier of crude oil to India.

Defence

  • India and Russia have a longstanding and comprehensive cooperation in the defence sector.
  • The relationship has evolved from a traditional buyer-seller framework to joint research, development, and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.
  • Notable defence acquisitions include India’s purchase of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya from Russia in 2004.

Nuclear Energy

  • Russia is a crucial partner for India in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
  • The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is a flagship project, with construction beginning in March 2002.

Space Cooperation

  • Both countries have a history of cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space.
  • Collaboration extends to India’s first human spaceflight program, “Gaganyaan.”

Science & Technology

  • India and Russia have a long history of cooperation in science and technology.
  • A new Roadmap for Bilateral Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Cooperation has been developed and agreed upon for the next 5 years.

Cooperation in the Fight Against Covid-19

  • The nations closely cooperate in the sphere of vaccine production, with SPUTNIK-V receiving approval for emergency use in India in 2021.

Emerging Issues

  • Concerns arise over defence supplies, payment issues for imports, and a general decline in other bilateral engagements.
  • India has been diversifying its defence procurements, reducing dependency on Russian arms and engaging with other countries like the U.S., Israel, France, and Italy.
  • Challenges persist as it may take two decades for India to overcome its dependence on Russian supplies and spares.

 

Conclusion

  • The development of India-Russia relations remains a key pillar of India’s foreign policy.
  • The historical alliance is characterized by cooperation in defence, oil, nuclear energy, and space exploration.
  • While India has not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, maintaining a stance for resolution through diplomacy and dialogue, the ties between India and Russia continue to evolve.
  • Direct understanding between the two nations is highlighted as crucial, independent of external perceptions and geopolitical shifts.

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