 External affairs minister S Jaishankar met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and the two leaders reviewed the bilateral ties and economic cooperation between New Delhi and Moscow, and discussed Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s expected visit to India later this year.
Outcome of meet
Cooperation in Following Sectors
Economic opportunities in the Russian Far East
 The Russian Far East stretches from Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake, to the Pacific Ocean and comprises roughly a third of Russia’s territory.
o Although it is rich in natural resources including minerals, hydrocarbons, timber and fish, it is an economically underdeveloped region.
 The Atmanirbhar Bharat economic vision can facilitate a more contemporary economic relationship in the post-Covid era.
 Connectivity through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
o INSTC is a multi-modal transportation established in September 2000 in St. Petersburg, by Iran, Russia and India for the purpose of promoting transportation cooperation.
 The Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern maritime corridor.
o Itr is a maritime route covering approximately 5,600 nautical miles, aimed at increasing bilateral trade between India and Russia.
 Long standing partnership in space and nuclear sectors. Russian supporting our Gaganyaan programme and which progressing rapidly Afghan Peace
 There is a need to “harmonise” the interests of various stakeholders that are active in and around Afghanistan.
 The peace process should be based on foundational principles and a political solution should mean independent, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan.
 Decision on the settlement in Afghanistan should foresee the participation of all political, ethnic and religious groups in the country. Otherwise the solution will not be stable.
 It needs to be noted that India was not a part of a recent meeting led by Russia on Afghan peace. Medical Cooperation
 The Russian Fund for Direct Investment has signed contracts with various Indian manufacturers for Sputnik V vaccines for 700-750 million doses.
 Both ministers also took up the possible export of the Covaxin to Russia which is likely to be cleared by experts.

Back to basics
 Defence partnership – For India, Russia remains the sheet anchor of India’s security policy. The defence ties, one of the highly influential aspect of their relation, rest on 3 features of technology transfer, joint development, marketing & selling and export of equipment, an agreement nonexistent with any other country. It has provided significant enhancement to India’s indigenous defence manufacturing.
o Some of the major defence collaboration programs are: BrahMos Cruise Missile program, Sukhoi Su30 and Tactical Transport Aircraft.
 Economic Relations – It is an important pillar of the relations yet there remains a lot of scope to improve it further. India and Russia are exploring various ways for enhancing bilateral trade.
 Energy Security – In Energy sector Russia has built nuclear reactors in India (kudankulam reactors), adopted strategic vision in nuclear energy, offered oil, gas and investment opportunities in the fuel sector of Russia e.g. Sakhalin I etc.
 Space technology- India and Russia have a four-decade strong relationship in the field of space.
The former Soviet Union launched India’s first two satellites, Aryabhata and Bhaskar. It has provided India help in developing Cryogenic technology to build heavy rockets.
 International standing – Russia has supported India’s bid for permanent seat in UNSC. It has been favoring Indian entry to Nuclear Supplier Group. Both countries coordinate each other over various forums including BRICS, SCO, G20 etc.
 Cultural Relations – This is one the crucial aspects of cooperation between the two. From people to people contacts (through programs like ‘Namaste Russia’) to sharing educational brilliance of both the countries through institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre, both the countries have had good cultural links

 Geo-Politics – with improving partnership between India-U.S. and Russia-China-Pakistan maintaining age old strategic relation with Russia became difficult.
 Geography is biggest barrier as there is no direct geographical connection between two countries.
 People to people contact is also weak. In present age of smart power, no relation can move on government-to-government platform alone.
 Economic ties – India-Russia trade historically remained dismal.
o There are several factors that have contributed to this weakness in India and Russia’s economic ties: lack of involvement of the private sector; absence of logistics; poor connectivity; and more recently, the stalling of the International North-South Economic Corridor, resulting in higher costs.
 Defence – While India and Russia’s economic relationship has been a weak point in the post-Cold War period, the most glaring sign of the stagnation, the US emerged as the top arms supplier to India, pushing Russia to the second position based on data for the preceding three years
 Moreover, there is also increased defense cooperation between Russia and Pakistan as Russia is selling Mi-35 Helicopters. This shows shift in Russian policy which traditionally refrained from sighing defense deals with Pakistan

Way forward
 Russia’s change in stance is evident of its re-energised role in Afghanistan. It can be seen as a positive step towards establishing peace in the neighbourhood.
 This will also help India to utilise peaceful Afghanistan and develop its proposed International North South Corridor and link with Central Asia. Further this will also boost bilateral ties and increase regional connectivity.
 However, India should explore other sector of cooperation with Russia such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, food processing etc. to improve its trade prospects and achieve the bilateral trade target of 30billion dollars by 2025.
 The General Framework Agreement for Kundankulam is still pending, India should move fast to safeguard its energy needs.
 The link between the think tanks from both the countries should be revived as this will ensure training and raising a new generation of Indologists in Russia.
Changing Geo-Political situation across Asia makes it important for India to balance its ties between US and Russia well, to maintain its leadership role in South-Asia.

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