India- Russia

Background

  • Traditionally, the Indo-Russian strategic partnership has been built on five major components: politics, defence, civil nuclear energy, anti-terrorism co-operation and space.
  • A cordial relationship with India that began in the 1950s began with a visit by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the Soviet Union in June 1955 and Khrushchev’s return trip to India in the fall of 1955.
  • While in India, Khrushchev announced that the Soviet Union supported Indian sovereignty over the disputed territory of the Kashmir region and over Portuguese coastal enclaves such as Goa.
  • The Soviet Union gave India substantial economic and military assistance during the Khrushchev period.
  • In 1965 the Soviet Union served successfully as peace broker between India and Pakistan after an Indian-Pakistani border war.
  • The Soviet Chairman of the Council of Ministers, literally Premier of the Soviet Union, Alexei Kosygin, met with representatives of India and Pakistan and helped them negotiate an end to the military conflict over Kashmir.
  • India signed with the Soviet Union the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in August 1971.
  • Rajiv Gandhi, visited the Soviet Union on his first state visit abroad in May 1985 and signed two long-term economic agreements with the Soviet Union.

Recent Developments

  • Recently a sixth component, economic, has grown in importance with both countries setting a target for US$30 billion in bilateral trade by 2025.
  • In order to facilitate this target both countries are looking to develop a free trade agreement. Bilateral trade between both countries in 2012 grew by over 24%.
  • India is the second largest market for the Russian defence industry.
  • In 2004, more than 70% of the Indian Military’s hardware came from Russia, making Russia the chief supplier of defence equipment.
  • India has an embassy in Moscow and two consulates-general (in Saint Petersburg and Vladivostok). Russia has an embassy in New Delhi and four consulates-general (in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai).
  • According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 45% of Russians view India positively, with only 9% expressing a negative view.

Political relations

  • The first major political initiative, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, between India and Russia began with the Strategic Partnership signed between the two countries in 2000.
  • Both countries closely collaborate on matters of shared national interest these include at the UN, BRICS, G20 and SCO where India has observer status and has been asked by Russia to become a full member.
  • Russia also strongly supports India receiving a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
  • In addition, Russia has vocally backed India joining the NSG and APEC.
  • Moreover, it has also expressed interest in joining SAARC with observer status in which India is a founding member.
  • Russia currently is one of only two countries in the world (the other being Japan) that has a mechanism for annual ministerial-level defence reviews with India.

IRIGC

  • The Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) is the main body that conducts affairs at the governmental level between both countries.
  • It is divided into two parts, the first covering Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Co-operation.
  • This is normally co-chaired by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister and the Indian External Affairs Minister.
  • The second part of the commission covers Military Technical Co-operation this is co-chaired by the two countries respective Defence Ministers. Both parts of IRIGC meet annually.
  • Other bodies include the Indo-Russian Forum on Trade and Investment, the India-Russia Business Council, the India-Russia Trade, Investment and Technology Promotion Council and the India-Russia Chamber of Commerce.
  • An article penned by Vladimir Putin was published in The Times of India on 30 May 2017, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia, to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of relations between India and the Russia on 13 April 1947.

Military relationship

  • In 1997, Russia and India signed a ten-year agreement for further military-technical cooperation.
  • That agreement encompassed a wide range of activities, including the purchase of completed weaponry, joint development and production, and joint marketing of armaments and military technologies.
  • Today, the co-operation is not limited to a buyer-seller relationship but includes joint research and development, training, service to service contacts, including joint exercises.
  • The last joint naval exercises took place in April 2007 in the Sea of Japan and joint airborne exercises were held in September 2007 in Russia.
  • An Inter-Governmental commission on military-technical co-operation is co-chaired by the defence ministers of the two countries.
  • The seventh session of this Inter-Governmental Commission was held in October 2007 in Moscow.
  • During the visit, an agreement on joint development and production of prospective multi-role fighters was signed between the two countries.
  • An India–Russia co-operation agreement was signed in December 1988.
  • It has resulted in the sale of a multitude of defence equipment to India and also the emergence of the countries as development partners as opposed to purely a buyer-seller relationship.
  • Two programmes that evidence this approach are the projects to form Indian-Russian joint ventures to develop and produce the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). The agreement is pending a 10-year extension.
  • India and Russia have several major joint military programmes including:
  • BrahMoscruise missile programme
  • 5th generation fighter jet programme
  • Sukhoi Su-30MKIprogramme (230+ to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics)
  • Ilyushin/HAL Tactical Transport Aircraft
  • Both countries signed a defence deal worth $2.9 billion during President Putin’s visit to India in December 2012.
  • The value of India’s defence projects with Russia will further zoom north after the imminent inking of the final design contract for the joint development of a futuristic stealth fifth-generation fighter.
  • This R&D contract is itself pegged at US$11 billion, to be shared equally by the two countries.

Economic relations

  • Bilateral trade between both countries is concentrated in key value chain sectors : machinery, electronics, aerospace, automobile, commercial shipping, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fertilisers, apparels, precious stones, industrial metals, petroleum products, coal, high-end tea and coffee products.
  • Bilaterial bodies that conduct economic relations between the two countries include IRIGC, the Indo-Russian Forum on Trade and Investment, the India-Russia Business Council, the India-Russia Trade, Investment and Technology Promotion Council, the India-Russia CEOs’ Council and the India-Russia Chamber of Commerce.
  • Both Governments have jointly developed an economic strategy that involves using a number of economic components to increase future bilateral trade.
  • These include development of an FTA between India & the EEU, a bilateral treaty on the promotion and protection of investments, a new economic planning mechanism built into IRIGC, simplication of customs procedures, new long term agreements in the expansion of energy trade including nuclear, oil and gas.
  • Finally, long term supplier contracts in key sectors such as oil, gas and rough diamonds. Companies such as Rosneft, Gazprom, Essar &Alrosa will act as long term suppliers respectively.
  • Russia has stated it will co-operate with India on its “Make in India” initiative by engagement in the development of “Smart Cites”, the DMIC, the aerospace sector, the commercial nuclear sector and enhancement in manufacturing of Russian military products through co-development and co-production.
  • Russia agreed to participate in the vast, over $100 billion, DMIC infrastructure project which will eventually connect Delhi and Mumbai with railways, highways, ports, interconnecting smart cities and industrial parks.
  • Both countries have also agreed to work together in the aerospace sector to co-development and co-produce aircraft, examples include the SukhoiSuperjet 100, MS-21, FGFA, MTA and Kamov Ka-226.
  •  Both countries have agreed to streamline their bilateral trade in diamonds through reductions in regulations and tariffs.
  • Due to India simplifying recent visa rule changes for Russians travelling to India, the number of tourists increased by over 22%.
  • In 2011 the Indian consulates in Moscow, Vladivostok and St. Petersburg issued 160,000 visas, an increase of over 50% compared to 2010.
  • Both governments have set up a joint study group (JSG) to negotiate the specifications of an agreement, a final agreement would be signed between India and Eurasian Economic Union of which Russia is a part of (also including Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan & Belarus).
  •  Thereby, the Indo-Russian FTA would result in a much bigger free trade agreement including India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan & Belarus.

Co-operation in the Energy sector

  • In 2001, ONGC-Videsh acquired 20% stake in the Sakhalin-I oil and gas project in the Russian Federation, and has invested about US $1.7 billion in the project.
  • Gazprom, the Russian company, and Gas Authority of India have collaborated in joint development of a block in the Bay of Bengal. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project with two units of 1000 MW each is a good example of Indo-Russian nuclear energy co-operation.
  • Both sides have expressed interest in expanding co-operation in the energy sector.
  • In December 2008, Russia and India signed an agreement to build civilian nuclear reactors in India
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