Why Rajiv Gandhi hailed Mikhail Gorbachev as ‘crusader of peace’

Source: The post is based on the article “Why Rajiv Gandhi hailed Mikhail Gorbachev as ‘crusader of peace’ published in the Indian Express on 1st September 2022.

What is the News?

Mikhail Gorbachev died recently at the age of 92. He came to the leadership of the Soviet Union during Rajiv Gandhi’s Prime Ministership of India.

Russian International relations under Mikhail Gorbachev

a) Between May 1988 and February 1989, Gorbachev pulled the Red Army out of Afghanistan, b) During his reign, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved.

Read more: Recent developments in India-Russia Relations – Explained, pointwise
India-Russia relationship under Mikhail Gorbachev

Between 1985 and 1989, both countries found enough common ground to mark a high point in India-Soviet relations.

Mutual visits: Gorbachev visited India twice, in 1986 and 1988. Similarly, Rajiv Gandhi also visited Russia. India was Gorbachev’s first visit to a non-Warsaw Pact country after taking over as leader of the Soviet Union.

Defence relations: a) Arms sales from the Soviet Union to India continued to define much of the bilateral ties, b) The USSR supplied more sophisticated hardware to India, c) India took a military delegation to Moscow for defence shopping and came back with several agreements.

All this facilitated India to test nuclear devices successfully in 1998 and Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, did not censure it or impose sanctions.

Peace initiatives: During Gorbachev’s visit, he said the objective was to extend his disarmament initiatives in Europe to Asia and to secure Indian cooperation in this task. So Rajiv hailed Gorbachev as a “crusader for peace”.

Cultural exchanges: The Festival of India in the Soviet Union held in July 1987 was the centrepiece of cultural exchange. This made a signal to India and the world that India is a very special friend indeed for Russia.

Other relations: a) An agreement was signed for scientific and economic cooperation during the visit of Gorbachev, b) India and Russia inaugurated a five-year waltz between the two countries.

The collapse of the Soviet Union saw India reset its foreign policy, and helped by the liberalisation of the economy.

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