The visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to New Delhi to participate in the “Raisina Dialogue”, provided an opportunity for reviewing the excellent state of bilateral relations between India and Russia. Mr. Lavrov had in-depth discussion with the Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar on the current regional situation which also included Iran, Libya and Syria. Later, the Russian Foreign Minister called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held talks. During the meeting with Mr. Lavrov, Prime Minister Modi said that several important decisions and outcomes were reached last year and suggested that the year 2020 which is also the 20th anniversary year of the establishment of Strategic Partnership between New Delhi and Moscow, should be treated as the year of implementation of those decisions.
During the foreign minister level deliberations, both Dr. Jaishankar and Mr. Lavrov discussed the rising tension in the Middle East that could lead to heightened escalation; and its impact on world economy and geopolitics of the Persian Gulf region. The Foreign Ministers took note of the rich bilateral agenda in front of them for the year 2020. The first high level interaction between India and Russia in the beginning of the New Year has, thus, set the tone for future Summit level interactions during the many multilateral meetings to be held this year.
President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi last met in Vladivostok in September, 2019 for the 20th India Russia Annual summit. The two leaders are expected to meet again later this year when the Russian President visits India. Meanwhile, the two leaders would also be meeting during various multilateral engagements, that include the G-20 Summit, the BRICS Summit and Shanghai Cooperation organisation (SCO) Summit. Prior to this, Prime Minister Modi is set to visit Moscow in May for participating in the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day.
Foreign Minister Lavrov discussed the progressive development of the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia. He and Minister for External Affairs Dr. Jaishankar deliberating on the present state of bilateral ties. The joint statement issued after the 20th Annual summit in Vladivostok last year, had said that India and Russia have successfully coped with the turbulent realities of the contemporary world and will not be susceptible to outside influence. Development of entire gamut of India Russia relations is a foreign policy priority for both countries. The strategic partnership has demonstrated its special and privileged nature which had emerged as an anchor of stability in a complex international situation .To further widen and deepen the bilateral relations, India and Russia have set a target for achieving bilateral trade of US $ 30 billion by 2025. To achieve this, both countries have agreed to pro-actively engage the impressive resource potential of India and Russia. The two countries are now working to create new technological and investment partnership, especially in advanced high-tech areas and new avenues of cooperation.
Both sides recognise that close cooperation in military and technical fields is a pillar of their bilateral special and privileged strategic partnership. In this spirit, India and Russia entered into a special agreement of strategic nature to supply ‘S-400 anti-Missile systems’ to India, in the face of stiff US pressure. Russia has been a reliable partner of India in strengthening the might of Indian armed forces and has helped and sided with India in various international forums including United Nations. Russia has been a votary of India’s case for permanent membership in 15 member United Nations Security Council and has strongly supported India’s entry in the prestigious 48 member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
In this backdrop, the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister to India provided an excellent opportunity for review the ongoing cooperation programmes of strategic nature. Indo-Russian ties have stood the test of time and holds a very promising future in the face of fast changing geo-political equations.
Script: Ranjit Kumar, Senior Journalist