The 20th Annual Summit between India and Russia’s was a testimony of the ‘special, time-tested and privileged’ strategic partnership in the changing dynamics of the world order.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was on a two-day visit to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum at Vladivostok in the Far East also had the annual summit with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During the economic forum, India unveiled its ‘Act Far East’ policy which could be seen as the continuation in its economic diplomacy. The prime minister announced a $1 billion line of credit for the development of the resource-rich region. This policy will help New Delhi to invest and cooperate more with the region. India is investing in the fields of diamond, coal and gold mining.
The relationship between the two countries has been hailed as ‘unique, confiding and mutually beneficial by nature, encompassing all possible areas of cooperation’. Further,‘ similar civilizational values, time-tested friendship, mutual understanding, trust, common interests and proximity of approaches to the fundamental issues of development and economic progress’ has helped India-Russia come closer in both global and regional levels. The Shanghai Cooperation Council was of major focus during the discussion between the two leaders.
During the annual summit, some of the best state craftsmanship was displayed by the two leaders, at the backdrop of the challenges the two countries have been facing, including the pandemonium created by New Delhi’s immediate neighbours on an internal issue of the country. Russia’s support to India, including at the United Nations Security Council, was clear as it said that the abrogation of Article 370 was an internal matter of India.
In the 20th Annual Summit, the two leaders focused on finding new horizon of bilateral cooperation such as in the sectors of trade, defence, space, energy and maritime connectivity.
On the economic front, President Putin expressed his satisfaction on the 17 per cent increase in the annual trade volume which reached to $11 billion in 2018. The two leaders prioritized a strong, multifaceted trade and economic cooperation as the foundation for further increase in the economic and trade engagements. Interest in expanding Russia’s participation in “Make in India” program and of Indians in investment projects in Russia was discussed. In the energy sector, praising the existing energy engagements, India and Russia is determined to forge cooperation in geological exploration and joint development of oil and gas fields in Russia and India, including offshore fields. They agreed on the long-term flow of energy from Russia to India, including through the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic. India is keen on cooperating with Russia in the Arctic. The two sides signed a Roadmap for cooperation in Hydrocarbons for 2019-24. It is expected that the energy sector will touch new heights in the next five years. In the nuclear sector, 12 more Russian-designed power units will be built within the next 20 years.
The International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) was also discussed. Focus has been given to electronic document workflow, including introduction to digital technologies and satellite navigation into the transportation process. A new connectivity route between Chennai and Vladivostok was introduced that is said to hold promise in economic and trade investments.
In a major breakthrough in defence sector, India will start manufacturing spare parts and components for the Russian military equipment under transfer of technology and set up of joint ventures. They also agreed to prepare a framework for cooperation on reciprocal logistics support.
On space, India announced that the Indian cosmonauts, for the Gaganyaan manned mission, will be trained in Russia.
On the cultural and people to people ties, a commemorative stamp was issued in Russia on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.
Overall, the annual summit and the 5th Eastern Economic Forum could be termed as a huge success, furthering with new developments in all the sectors, including the introduction of the new ‘Act Far East’ policy.
Script: Dr. Indrani Talukdar, Strategic Analyst On Russia