The relations between India and Russia are very old. Since the signing of the “India-Russia Strategic Partnership Declaration” in October 2000, India-Russia relations have seen increased cooperation in almost all areas of bilateral relations, including political, security, defence, trade and economy, science and technology, and culture. A qualitative redesign has been seen with the increased levels.
During the Cold War, India and the Soviet Union had a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited its close ties with India, resulting in the two countries sharing a special strategic relationship. However, relations have taken a severe turn in the last few years, especially in the post-Covid scenario. The biggest reason for this is Russia’s close ties with China and Pakistan, which have caused many geopolitical issues in India over the years.
India-Russia Political Affiliation
- The annual summit between the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation is the highest institutional dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between India and Russia.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin held their first informal summit in the year 2018 in the city of Sochi, Russian Federation.
- In the year 2019, President Putin conferred Russia’s highest honor – “Order of St. Andrew the Apostle” on PM Narendra Modi. The same was awarded to the Prime Minister for his distinguished contribution to the development of a privileged, strategic partnership between Russia and India and to the development of friendly relations between the Russian and Indian peoples.
- Two intergovernmental commissions meet annually – the first trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), and the second on military-technical cooperation (IRIGC-MTC).
India-Russia Trade relations
- Both countries are striving to increase bilateral investment to US$ 50 billion and bilateral trade to US$ 30 billion by the year 2025.
- Bilateral trade stood at US$ 8.1 billion during FY2020.
- From 2013 to 2016 there was a major decline in the trade percentage between the two countries. However, it increased from 2017 and continued to see growth in 2018 and 2019 as well.
India-Russia Defense and Security Relations
India-Russia military-technical cooperation has evolved from a buyer-seller framework for joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.
- Both countries regularly conduct the tri-services exercise ‘INDRA’.
- Joint military programs between India and Russia include:
- Brahmos cruise missile program
- 5th generation fighter jet program
- Sukhoi Su-30MKI Program
- Ilyushin/HAL Strategic Transport Aircraft
- KA-226T twin-engine utility helicopter
- some warships
- Military hardware purchased/leased by India from Russia includes:
- S-400 Triumph
- 200 Kamov Ka-226 to be made in India under Make in India initiative
- T-90S Bhishma
INS Vikramaditya Aircraft Carrier Program
- Russia also plays a very important role in assisting the Indian Navy in its submarine programs
- The first submarine of the Indian Navy, the ‘Foxtrot Class’ was acquired from Russia.
- India is dependent on Russia for its nuclear submarine program.
- INS Vikramaditya, the only aircraft carrier operated by India, is also of Russian origin.
- Of the fourteen conventional submarines operated by India, nine are Indian.
- Other important areas of relations between India and Russia
- Russia is an important partner of India in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an unblemished non-proliferation record.
- The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India.
- Both India and Russia are setting up the Rooppur Nuclear Power Project in Bangladesh.
- The two sides cooperate in the peaceful uses of outer space, including satellite launches, the GLONASS navigation system, remote sensing, and other societal applications of outer space.
- An MoU on joint activities in the field of the Human Space Flight Program was signed by ISRO and Roscosmos during the 19th Bilateral Summit.
Science and Technology
- The Working Group on Science and Technology, the Integrated Long-Term Program (ILTP) and the Basic Science Cooperation Program operating under the IRIGC-TEC are the three main institutional mechanisms for bilateral S&T cooperation, while the science academies of both countries promote inter-academic exchanges. To promote it.
- Several new initiatives in this area include the India-Russia Bridge to Innovation, cooperation in telemedicine, the creation of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) and the Russia India Network of Universities (RIN).
- Hindi is taught regularly to about 1500 Russian students in about 20 Russian institutions, including leading universities and schools.
- Besides Hindi, languages such as Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Urdu, Sanskrit and Pali are taught in Russian institutions.
- Indian dance, music, yoga and Ayurveda are some of the other interests that Russians are interested in.
Importance of Russia to India
- Balancing China: The Chinese presence in border areas of Eastern Ladakh While the visit marked a turning point in India-China relations, it also demonstrated that Russia could contribute to reducing tensions with China.
- Russia organized a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China following deadly clashes in the Galway Valley in the disputed region of Ladakh.
- Emerging new areas of economic engagement: In addition to traditional areas of cooperation such as weapons, hydrocarbons, nuclear energy, and diamonds, new areas of economic engagement are likely to emerge – mining, agro-industrial and high technology, including robotics, nanotech, and biotech.
- India’s footprint is set to expand in the Russian Far East and the Arctic. Connectivity projects can also get a boost.
- Counter Terrorism: India and Russia are working to bridge the gap between Afghanistan and both countries have called for early finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
- Support in multilateral fora: In addition, Russia supports India’s candidature for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- Military Exports of Russia: Russia has been one of the largest arms exporters to India. Even Russia’s share in India’s arms imports fell by more than 50% in the last five-year period as compared to the previous five years (2011-2015).
- According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks the global arms trade, India has imported arms worth US$35 billion from Russia in the last 20 years.