Expanding India’s engagement envelope with Russia: Beyond existing fields such as defence and energy, there are other areas which can help deepen their links
- Page 6/Editorial
- GS 2: IR
Expected Question: Evaluate the Indo-Russian partnership in the context of India’s partnership with the United states of America. (250 words)
Context: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi for the 21st India-Russia Summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlights the constant efforts by both leaders to nurture and to provide further impetus to the ‘India-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’.
The Strategic partnership
- The robust partnership between India and Russia has come out of the shackles of the Cold War inheritance.
- It withstood the test of time despite ever-shifting nature of national interests: India has been seen with the US and its groupings more in the recent years. Whereas Russia has patterned with China occasionally on key global issues. However, Relations between the two countries have deepened with time irrespective of the quagmire of realpolitik. This exceptional resilience is built on the firm foundation of strategic national interest and the synergy of geopolitics.
- Global status in the post-Cold War era:
- India has emerged as an economic powerhouse and a key stakeholder in today’s global debate be it climate change, international trade, or the menace of terrorism.
- Russia with its global status and presence.
- This presents a win-win situation for deeper cooperation.
- The Progress in Relationship:
- “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000 –
- Made Russia, India’s closest friends and allies.
- It unlocked new opportunities in strategic, science and technology, space, energy, nuclear ties, trade and commerce, culture and a people-to-people connect.
- An institutionalised dialogue mechanism involving key stakeholders at the political and official levels – adopted for smooth functioning of relation.
- “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership”: Mr. Putin’s visit to India in December 2010 heralded a new chapter in India-Russia relations when the Strategic Partnership was elevated to the level of a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership”.
The Convergence in relations
- The Defence Cooperation: Russia is the key and principal supplier of arms and armaments to the Indian armed forces accounting for over 60% of weapons.
- It comprises the whole gamut covering the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
- India recently inducted the S-400 Triumf missile systems. Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft, T-90 tanks, and the Talwar and the Krivak class stealth frigates are key weapons in the armoury of the Indian armed forces.
- Areas of military-technical collaboration:
- The BrahMos missile system was a successful collaboration of joint research, development, and production.
- Science and technology, nuclear, energy, space have been key driving forces. But changes in interests and capabilities being fuelled by geopolitical differences are widening the divergence between India and Russia.
- Bilateral trade has seen the two countries progressing from defence and energy to IT, pharmaceuticals, agro-industries, mineral and metallurgy, fertilizers, and infrastructure projects. India-Russia trade was valued at the U.S.$10.11 billion in 2019–20, but is not a true reflection of the potential that can be harnessed.
- Geostrategic Relations: Russia is aligned with China and India is more anchored toward the United States. This dissonance was apparent in the Indian and Russian approach over Afghanistan.
- B2B Partnership missing: India-Russia partnerships have not percolated to private sectors.
- Pakistan Angle: Various examples like
- Joint exercise by Russia in Pak barely a week after the Uri Attacks
- Four Mi-35 Helicopters supplied to Pakistan.
- A provocative joint India-Ukraine military exercise near Crimea.
The Current talks:
- The inaugural ‘2+2’ dialogue between the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the two countries promises to provide new vitality to the special and privileged strategic partnership.
- The uniqueness of this approach not only ensures result-oriented cooperation but also deliberates upon regional and global matters of mutual concerns and interests.
- Defence, trade and investment, energy, and science and technology are a part of the agenda.
- The ‘2+2’ mechanism has become the standard framework of cooperation to widen collaboration and will help our two nations to deepen the engagement.
- The Modi-Putin meeting has sent the unambiguous signal to the world that the India-Russia partnership is an incredible friendship ensuring stability and diversity.
- India and Russia need to work together in a trilateral manner or using other flexible frameworks, particularly in Southeast Asia and Central Asia. Their growing collaboration can be a force of stability and will bring more diversity to the region while strengthening multilateralism.
- The two countries also need to look at peoples’ power — youth exchanges as well as deeper links in various fields including sport, culture, spiritual and religious studies.
- Buddhism can be an area where both countries can expand their interaction, where peace and sustainability can act as a balm in this turbulent world.
- At a time when global politics is in a state of flux, it becomes more important to have compatibility with geopolitical and geoeconomic realities along with the trust of the leadership. Therefore, this evolving political framework provides the necessary agility to the relationship in fine-tuning their differences and deepening their bonds.
- A practical and result-oriented approach will pave the way for the most reliable partnership.