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Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay K Gokhale was on a two day visit to Russia. Mr. Gokhale held productive meetings with some of the important ministers of Russia. He met Deputy Foreign Minister, Igor Morgulov for bilateral Foreign Office Consultations. The Indian Foreign Secretary also held talks with Deputy Minister Sergey Ryabkov and Deputy Prime Minister and Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Far East Federal District, Yury Trutnev.
Mr. Gokhale discussed wide-ranging issues with the Russian ministers. The Foreign Secretary and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Morgulov reviewed the implementation of decisions taken at the 19th Annual India-Russia Summit of 2018. They also discussed the preparations for high-level meetings between the two countries for 2019, including on the preparations for the next Annual Bilateral Summit of 2019 and India’s participation in the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September this year. The Indian Prime Minister has been invited by the Russian President to attend the forum. They discussed the upcoming summits and cooperation between India and Russia under the formats of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Russia-India-China trilateral grouping (RIC) and other bodies such as UN and G20. The evolving situation in Afghanistan was deliberated upon by the two sides.
Mr. Gokhale held discussions on the regional and international issues including those relating to disarmament and non-proliferation, and cooperation between India and Russia at various multilateral fora with the Russian Deputy Minister Mr. Ryabkov. The issue of India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which Moscow supports, featured prominently during the deliberations. The Indian External Affairs Ministry has said that the discussions were successful and productive. The meetings would result in enhanced mutual convergence and coordination of views on all major regional and international issues in the spirit of the long standing and time-tested friendship between New Delhi and Moscow.
Regular foreign office consultations between India and Russia are important in the backdrop of the developments that are taking place globally, regionally as well as bilaterally. The relationship between the two countries, as President Putin had said at the beginning of the year, “is developing in a constructive and dynamic manner”. The solid bilateral relationship has been witnessed during many occasions, including during the hard, trying and difficult times of both the countries.
Last year, despite the US’ warnings, India went ahead and signed the deal of S-400 missile defence system with Russia. It was an important step that demonstrated New Delhi’s clear and balanced priorities to the world, including the former Cold War rivals. This year, Russia, despite its growing close relationship with Pakistan, showed its solidarity and camaraderie with India by reiterating its support to the UNSC resolution to list Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) Chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. It has also been reported that Moscow used its good offices with the Chinese to garner Beijing’s support on the proposal.
India and Russia are closely cooperating on every aspect of their bilateral relationship that is showing a positive spin-off on the bilateral economic turnover. In 2017, the upswing in bilateral turnover was more than US$ 10.7 billion that made the two countries to strike a new target of achieving US$ 50 billion by 2025. According to the two countries, the target of achieving bilateral trade of US$ 30 billion has already been achieved last year. On the defence sector, the ties are growing strong despite diversification in India’s defence basket. New joint ventures on rifle production have been agreed upon which promises to generate more Indian jobs and revenues.
India and Russia are also focusing on rejuvenating the older areas of cooperation as well as on new sectors such as space cooperation and migration respectively. Overall, the India-Russia relationship is on an upswing mode despite the various challenges surrounding the two countries. This amply demonstrates the strength of the special time-tested and privileged strategic partnership. With new avenues of opportunities opening up in Eurasia, future of India-Russia relationship looks extremely bright.
Script: Dr.Indrani Talukdar , Strategic Analyst on Russia