Insights into Editorial: Bear hug: On India strengthening relations with Russia
Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, set up by Russian President to attract investment to the farthest outlying East Siberian and Arctic-pole areas of the country, Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi said that the announcement of the extend a $1 billion Line of Credit to Russia’s Far East region (RFE).
It expected to help finance Indian business projects in the region, will be the “take-off point for Act Far East”, and will further strengthen bilateral ties.
Prime Minister Mr. Modi, who arrived in Russia on a two-day visit, is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Russian Far East Region.
Critics pointed out that while Russia’s GDP figures are far behind India’s in recent years ($1.6 trillion vs $2.6 trillion at current prices, 2017), the GDP per capita for the average Russian is five times that for the average Indian.
Delegation-level talks at the 20th Annual Summit:
India and Russia are against “outside influence” in the internal matters of any nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after comprehensive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed at finding new horizons of bilateral cooperation in areas like trade, defence, space, oil and gas, nuclear energy and maritime connectivity.
The two countries discussed ways to bolster cooperation in trade and investment, oil and gas, mining, nuclear energy, defence and security, air and maritime connectivity, transport infrastructure, hi-tech, outer space, counter terrorism and people-to-people ties.
Russia has backed India’s move on Jammu and Kashmir, saying that the changes in the status are within the framework of the Indian Constitution.
About Eastern Economic Forum:
It was established by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in 2015.
The aim is supporting the economic development of Russia’s Far East, and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region.
PM Modi became first Indian prime minister to visit the Russian Far East Region. He visited the place to participate in the 20th India-Russia annual summit with President Putin and the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
An area of special interest for India is the exploration of hydro carbon reserves along the coast of Russia’s Far East.
The countries have to achieve $ 30 billion bilateral trade target set by both the countries for 2025.
In the past year alone, India has contracted defence deals worth about $14.5 billion from Russia.
Enormous scope of Trade and Business have to explore between India and Russia:
- PM Modi said a proposal has been made to have a full fledged maritime route between Chennai and Vladivostok.
- The two leaders “agreed to facilitate, in all possible ways, exploring the impressive potential of our strategic partnership to the full, demonstrating its special and privileged nature which has emerged as an anchor of stability in a complex international situation.”
- The two sides “prioritise strong, multifaceted trade and economic cooperation as the foundation for further expanding the range of India-Russia relations,” it added.
- The two leaders decided to take the bilateral trade from the current $11 billion to $30 billion by 2025.
- The two sides noted the pace of progress achieved in the construction of the remaining four of the six nuclear power plants at Kudankulam.
- Modi said Russia will help train Indian astronauts for the manned space mission — Gaganyaan.
- Noting that close cooperation in military-technical fields is a pillar of Indo-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.
- The statement said the two sides vowed to upgrade their defence cooperation, including by fostering joint development and production of military equipment, components and spare parts.
- They shared the view that “implementation in good faith of universally recognised principles and rules of international law excludes the practice of double standards or imposition of some States of their will on other States.”
- The two sides expressed their support for an inclusive peace and Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation in Afghanistan.
- They reaffirmed their commitment to building an equal and indivisible security architecture in Asia and the Pacific region.
- They called for reform of the UN Security Council to reflect contemporary global realities.
- Russia expressed its support for India’s candidacy for a permanent membership of the UNSC.
India’s attempt to not only keep a traditional friend close, but to ensure some space in the current clinch between Russia and China. China’s cross-border investment in RFE accounts for 71% of the total direct foreign investment of $33 billion.
A joint statement issued later said the two sides “underlined the primacy of international law and emphasised their commitment to the purposes and the principles stated in the UN Charter including the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of member states.”
India and Russia have identified several new areas of cooperation.
These range from deep sea exploration to building knowledge based economies based on science and technology, innovation, robotics and artificial intelligence, focussing on infrastructure, skill development, agriculture, shipbuilding, railways, aviation and greater connectivity, especially people-to-people contacts.
The two countries decided to setup more than 20 Russian designed nuclear units in India in the next 20-years.
Above all, the push to ‘Act Far East’ allows India to demonstrate its commitment to an area of concern for Moscow, thus reassuring its traditional partner that in an increasingly polarised world, India is confident of working with multiple alignments, even if they are at cross purposes with each other.