• President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, paid a working visit to New Delhi for the 21st India – Russia Annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


  • The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the sustained progress in the ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ between both countries despite the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic.
  • They welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign and Defence Ministers and the meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military-Technical Cooperation.
  • The leaders underscored the need for greater economic cooperation and in this context, emphasized on new drivers of growth for long term predictable and sustained economic cooperation.
  • They appreciated the success story of mutual investments and looked forward to greater investments in each other’s’ countries. The role of connectivity through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the proposed Chennai – Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor figured in the discussions.
  • The two leaders looked forward to greater inter-regional cooperation between various regions of Russia, in particular with the Russian Far-East, with the States of India. They appreciated the ongoing bilateral cooperation in the fight against the Covid pandemic, including humanitarian assistance extended by both countries to each other in critical times of need.
  • They agreed that both countries share common perspectives and concerns on Afghanistan and appreciated the bilateral roadmap charted out at the NSA level for consultation and cooperation on Afghanistan.
  • They noted that both sides shared common positions on many international issues and agreed to further strengthen cooperation at multilateral fora, including at the UN Security Council.


  • Defence partnership: The defence ties rest on 3 features of technology transfer, joint development, marketing & selling and export of equipment (an agreement non-existent with any other country). It has provided significant enhancement to India’s indigenous defence manufacturing.
    • Some of the major defence collaboration programs areBrahMos Cruise Missile program, Sukhoi Su30 and Tactical Transport Aircraft.
  • Economic Relations: Both countries achieved a bilateral trade of $7.5 Bn in 2019 and set investment targets of achieving $30 billion by 2025.
  • Energy Security: Russia has built nuclear reactors in India (Kudankulam reactors), adopted strategic visionin nuclear energy, offered oil, gas and investment opportunities in the fuel sector of Russia e.g., SakhalinI etc.
    • Both are extending civil nuclear cooperation to 3rd world countries like Bangladesh.
  • Space technology: India and Russia have a four-decade strong relationship in the field of space. The formSoviet Union launched India’s first two satellites, Aryabhata and Bhaskar. It has provided India Cryogenictechnology to build heavy rockets.
  • International standing: Russia has supported India’s bid for permanent seat in UNSC. It has beenfavouring India’s entry to Nuclear Supplier Group. Both countries coordinate each other over various forums including BRICS, SCO, G20 etc.
  • Cultural Relations: From people-to-people contacts (through programs like ‘Namaste Russia’) to sharingeducational brilliance of both the countries through institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre, boththe countries have had good cultural links.


India Russia relations have remained close, but they have lost intensity of India-Soviet relation. Recently, therehas been a decline in India Russia Relations due to reasons such as:

  • India’s growing proximity to the United States: Rapidly expanding ties and growing defence relationship between India and US, and India joining quadrilateral group led by the US has led to a strategic shift in Russia’s foreign policy. For Russia, it has been a period of great hostility with West, thus pushing it to align with China.
  • Defence partnership
    • India has been recently diversifying its defence relations with US, Israel etc. Russia’s share of Indian defence imports fell from 79 percent between 2008-2012 to 62 percent between 2013-2017.
    • India and US signed four foundational agreements (Like Logistics agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement etc.), which shows enhanced inter-operability between the two militaries. India Russia relation lacks this aspect.
    • However, India-Russia bilateral logistics agreement, The Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) is to be concluded soon.
  • Trade:
    • Trade has been one-dimensional i.e., defence based and far below in comparison to India’s bilateral trade with China and the United States.
    • There are a number of issues that hinder India-Russia trade, like, connectivity issues, distance, weak banking links, cumbersome regulations on both sides and Russia’s restrictive visa regime.
  • Russia’s changed foreign policy posture:
    • Towards Pakistan: Russia lifted arms embargo on Pakistan, both conducted a military exercise, and a military-technical cooperation agreement was signed between the two which deals with arms supply and weapon development. All these factors raised concerns in India.
    • Towards China: Russia has sold advanced military technology to Beijing, endorsed China’s One Belt One Road and there has also been concern about Moscow leaning toward Beijing in forums like the BRICS. Also, both inaugurated the first cross-border pipeline between their countries, called the “Power of Siberia” to pump natural gas from Russia’s far-east regions to China which shows increasing collaboration between two.
    • Towards Taliban: Russia is showing inclination towards Taliban in Afghanistan while India continues to have concerns about the group. For example, India has not been invited to a crucial meeting being convened by Russia on the fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan.


  • Diversifying areas of cooperation beyond energy and defence. The trade relationship remains weak and needs active intervention to take advantage of policies like ‘Make in India’.
    • 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. There is also a need for cooperation in areas like counter terrorism, cyber security, the Afghanistan conflict, outer space, and climate change.
  • Mutual needs: India would do well to take steps to shore up its relations with Russia to prevent it frombecoming more dependent than it already is on China. At the same time, Russia would also benefit fromdiversifying its relations across the region, including India, so as to prevent its pivot to Asia becoming apivot to China
  • Relevance in Indo-Pacific region: India would benefit from a closer cooperation with Russia in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Strengthening Eurasian Presence: The proposal of Russia for a ‘more extensive Eurasian partnership involving the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China, India, Pakistan and Iran’ should be used by India to strengthen its presence in Eurasia.

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