India-Russia relations



  • Relations between India and Russia are rooted in history, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation. This is a strategic partnership that has withstood the test of time, and which enjoys the support of the people of both countries



Political Relations

    • The Annual Summit meeting between the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between India and Russia
    • The Prime Ministers of both nations, meet along the side lines of the BRICS Summit,  the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and G20
    • Both leaders meet along the Informal Summit as well
      • First informal Summit was held in the city of Sochi in the Russian Federation in 2018
      • The Summit provided an occasion for both leaders to deepen their friendship and to exchange views on international and regional issues, in keeping with the tradition of high level political exchanges between India and Russia
    • India & Russia have reaffirmed the need to reform the UN Security Council to better reflect the current world order and make it more effective in dealing with emerging global challenges.
      • Also, Russia reiterated its unwavering support to India for Permanent Membership in an expanded UNSC


Defence and Security Cooperation

    • India has longstanding and wide-ranging cooperation with Russia in the field of defence
    • India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a buyer – seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems
      • BrahMos Missile System as well as the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks, are examples of such flagship cooperation
    • Furthering this cooperation, an agreement on the cooperation in the production of spare parts for Russian/Soviet military equipment was signed during the 20th Annual Bilateral Summit in Vladivostok in 2019
    • Both sides have concluded agreements on supply of S-400 air defence systems, construction of frigates and shareholders agreement on the formation of joint venture to manufacture Ka-226T helicopters in India
    • In 2019, at Amethi, the Indian Prime Minister announced the Joint Venture – Indo-Russian Rifles Pvt. Ltd. for production of AK Series Assault Rifles at Ordnance Factory Korwa under the ‘Make-in-India’ program
    • Bilateral Exercises
      • Both sides carry out Joint Tri-Services Exercise – ‘INDRA‘, to strengthen field, marine and flight skills as well as improve cooperation between Russia and India’s armed forces
      • Indian Army participates in military exercise named ZAPAD with Russia, aimed at boosting anti-terror cooperation
    • Recently, India and Russia have also signed a program of cooperation in the field of Défense for the next ten years, 2021 to 2031
    • The defence ministers of the two countries also meet regularly as they co-chair the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC). These annual meetings seek to review defence cooperation between the two countries

Trade and Economic Relations

    • Intensifying the trade and economic relations has been identified as a priority area by the leaders on both the sides, as is clear by the revised targets of increasing bilateral investment to US $ 50 billion and bilateral trade to US $ 30 billion by 2025
    • Bilateral Trade during 2020-21, amounted USD 8.1 billion
      • Indian exports amounted USD 2.6 billion, while imports from Russia amounted USD 5.48 billion
    • A number of institutionalized mechanisms have been set up for the development of economic cooperation between the two countries.
      • The primary institution at the government level is the India Russia Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific & Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC)
      • Further, the India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) has been established for cooperation in the field of development of economic policy and to encourage regular interactions and cooperation between the two countries.
    • Both the Governments have undertaken initiatives to promote bilateral investments, primarily through facilitating high-level Government to business and Business to Business contacts apart from the on-going investment process in strategic sectors in both the countries.
      • Investment cooperation has been envisaged in some priority sectors such as hydrocarbons, power, coal, nuclear power, fertilizers, IT, mineral and metallurgy, steel, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure projects amongst others.
    • A few important steps/projects that are being carried on to provide a major boost to bilateral trade are:
      • Operationalization of the ‘Green Corridor’ project
      • International North-South Transport Corridor, and
      • The signing of an FTA with EaEU(Eurasian Economic Union)


Energy Cooperation

    • In 2016, several deals in the hydrocarbon sector were signed, the most important of which were a 23.9-percent stake in Vankorneft by Oil India Limited, OVL acquiring 11 percent more in Vankor oilfield and Rosneft buying a 49-percent stake in Essar Oil
      • The Rosneft acquisition of Essar at $12.9 billion was the largest FDI in India in the sector.
    • For India, Russia is the largest oil and gas investment destination, with a total of $15 billion in cumulative investments.
      • In 2016, Indian companies spent $5.4 billion in acquiring oil and gas assets in Russia
      • Russia was also added as a new source for long-term LNG imports and the first cargo of Russian LNG reached India at Dahej, Gujarat in June 2018

Nuclear Cooperation

    • Russia is an important partner for India in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy. It recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record
    • In 2014, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Russia’s Rosatom signed the Strategic Vision for strengthening cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy
    • Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation
    • Also, Russia has been a long standing supporter of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group
    • Important agreements in the field of nuclear energy were finalised during 2014 and 2015: the construction of at least 12 nuclear power plants over the next two decades; and for “localization of manufacturing” for nuclear power plants

Space Cooperation

    • Both sides cooperate in the peaceful uses of outer space, including satellite launches, GLONASS navigation system, remote sensing and other societal applications of outer space
    • A MoU between ISRO and ROSCOSMOS on Joint Activities in the field of Human Spaceflight Programme was signed in 2018.
      • Since then, several visits have taken place from ISRO and ROSCOSMOS regarding negotiation of contracts and identification of key areas of cooperation for realization of the Human Spaceflight ProgramGaganyaan

Science & Technology

    • The Working Group on Science and Technology functioning under IRIGC-TEC, the Integrated Long Term Programme (ILTP) and the Basic Science Cooperation Programme are the three main institutional mechanisms for bilateral Science and Technology cooperation
    • A number of new initiatives in this sphere include India-Russia Bridge to Innovation, cooperation in telemedicine, creation of a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), and the Russia-India Network (RIN) of Universities

Cultural Cooperation

    • There is a strong tradition of Indian studies in Russia
      • About 20 Russian Institutions, including leading universities and schools, regularly teach Hindi to about 1500 Russian students
      • Apart from Hindi, languages such as Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Urdu, Sanskrit and Pali are taught in Russian Institutions
      • Also, there is strong interest among Russian people in Indian dance, music, yoga and Ayurveda
    • As per the reciprocal agreement, regular cultural exchange between India and Russia have been taking place since 2015
    • On 2nd October 2018, an exhibition dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and about his friendship with the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy was opened at the State Duma of the Russian Federation


Factors weakening India-Russia Economic ties

    • The lack of involvement of the private sector; absence of logistics; poor connectivity; and more recently, the stalling of the International North-South Economic Corridor, have resulted in higher costs


Issues related to Defence

    • There has been a gradual decline in the orders of India from Russia because of:
      • India’s desire to diversify its defence imports and therefore a heightened competition for Russia with other suppliers
      • Dissatisfaction in India with post-sales services and maintenance being offered by Russia
    • Moreover, India has also had concerns in the past regarding supply and servicing of defence supplies.
      • Some of these included a five-year delay in the delivery of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (later renamed INS Vikramaditya) as well as its cost escalation

Russia’s apprehensions over India’s foreign policy

    • Russian officials have repeatedly criticized the idea of the Indo-Pacific and the Quad, arguing that it is meant to contain China
    • Russia believes that, India is currently an object of the Western countries

The USA factor

    • The source of divergence between Indian and Russian interests lies in the continuing problems that Russia faces in its relations with the US
    • The consequence of this confrontation is that Moscow has increasingly leaned on China both for support as well as a way to undermine American power
    • At a time of greater prospects with India-USA engagements, it might get difficult to maintain the balance in India-Russia ties as well


  • India and Russia continue to share a common strategic rationale for their relationship: apart from bilateral synergies, the two are members of various multilateral organisations including BRICS, RIC, G20, East Asia Summit and SCO—where avenues for cooperation on issues of mutual importance exist.
  • The fact that Russia holds a permanent seat at the UN Security Council and has been a supporter of India on various issues including Kashmir at the international forum is of critical importance for India
  • India would do well to take steps to shore up its relations with Russia to prevent it from becoming more dependent than it is already on China.
    • At the same time, Russia would also benefit from diversifying its relations across the region, including India, so as to prevent its pivot to Asia becoming a pivot to China
  • Thus, India and Russia’s relationship cannot flourish on defence and historical linkages alone.
    • With systemic changes underway in international relations, new dimensions of cooperation need to be found to build a strong economic and strategic partnership.
    • Both nations could cooperate in areas like counterterrorism, cyber security, the Afghanistan conflict, outer space, and climate change
  • On the whole, Both India and Russia will have to learn to navigate their relationship amidst challenges emerging not just from bilateral factors but also regional and global ones, as both countries seek to strengthen their position at a time of flux in the international order.