Bharateeya Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a two-day visit to Russia, on December 23-24, 2015. This was part of the 16th Annual Bharat-Russia Summit Meeting between the Prime Minister of Bharat and the President of the Russian Federation. Since the signing of the ‘Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership’ in 2000, such high-level Summit meetings have been taking place annually, alternatively in New Delhi and Moscow. Through Strategic Partnership and institutionalised dialogue mechanism, Bharat-Russia ties have acquired the enhanced level of bilateral relationship.
During the visit, Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Putin signed 16 agreements, covering arenas like, defence, nuclear cooperation and economic engagements. Most important highlight of the visit is Russia’s commitment to Modi Government’s flagship programme of ‘Make in India’. Russia has agreed to build nuclear reactor components and military helicopters in Bharat. Russia is the first country to have agreed on taking initiative under ‘Make in India’, in two key sectors- nuclear and defence.
Last week, Ministry of Defence, Bharat signed an agreement for buying Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems worth Rs 40,000 Cr defence deals alone are estimated to touch $150 billion over next few years. Moreover, Russia has committed for the manufacturing of Brahmos Missiles and now for Kamov-226 attack helicopters in Bharat, under the ‘Make in India’ mission. Russia has shown readiness in sharing with Bharat its latest ‘state-of-art’ technology in the defence sector.
Russia has also been our very important partner in the field of civil nuclear cooperation. It has built units I and II in Kudankulam Plant in Tamil Nadu. Talks are in progress for construction of 12 Russian nuclear reactors at two sites, with the involvement of Bharateeya firms. This support from the Russian side has always been very crucial for Bharat’s civil nuclear programme.
Economic cooperation between the two countries also touched new heights in the recent visit, especially because of the involvement of the private sector in the business deals. Two leaders agreed to institutionalise a ‘CEOs Forum’ with two meetings annually—one in Bharat and one in Russia. ONGC—Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Rosneft OAO signed an agreement involving acquisition of 15 per cent stakes in Russia’s second biggest oil field of Vankor. Moreover, Rosneft and OVL also signed an MOU for cooperation in geological survey, exploration, production of hydrocarbons in the coastal areas of Russian Federation, including Arctic Ocean. Reliance Defense Ltd also signed an agreement with Russia’s state-run arms manufacturer Almaz-Antey on the entire range of air defence missile systems. As the part of Annual Bharat-Russia Summit, Modi and Putin also had a ‘one-on-one’ meeting before they were joined by their respective delegations. Both the nations have put high hopes in their charismatic leadership and decisive rule.
Russia has been quite vocal in supporting Bharat’s bid in the UN Security Council. Two nations have been working closely in the multi-lateral forums like BRICS; and it was Russia who pressed for Bharat’s membership in the SCO. The two countries have been dealing with challenges like terrorism and extremism on their own territory and in their vicinity. They have worked in cooperation with each other to deal with this problem.
During his visit, Modi reiterated that Bharat and Russia have cherished ‘true strategic partnership’, and Russia has stood by Bharat in its ‘hard times’. He also emphasised on the age-old cultural and civilisational links between the two nations. It will be interesting to see how the ‘strategic partnership’ matures in multi-pronged directions in various arenas under Modi and Putin.
Rashmini Anil Koparkar
(The writer is a researcher at Centre for Russian studies, JNU)