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India, Russia and the new era of global politics

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    13th Dec, 2021

Context

For a ‘stable and fair international relations system’, strong relations between Russia and India are important in maintaining a balance in the changing world order.

Thus, in the light of the recent 21st annual India-Russia Summit held in India, this brief delves into what is working for the relationship between the two nations, and what needs to be worked on.

Background

  • The visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin is in continuation of the tradition of Annual Summits alternately held in India and Russia
  • The year 2021 marks
    • Completion of 5 decades of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation
    • 2 decades of Declaration on Strategic Partnership
  • During the summit, a total of 28 agreements and 99 point joint statement was made.
  • India signed four agreements with Russia at the first 2+2 meeting between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries, and talks included the mention of Chinese aggression by New Delhi and the Covid-19
    • Until now, India has held a 2+2 format of meetings with member nations of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) — the US, Japan and Australia.
  • The summit reaffirmed commitment to the ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ between India and Russia.
  • They underscored that as major powers with common responsibilities, this important relationship continues to be an anchor of global peace and stability.
  • India and Russia “agreed to intensify consultations on complementarities between integration and development initiatives in greater Eurasian space and in the regions of Indian and Pacific Oceans”.

Analysis

Relevance of the recent pacts for India

  • Defence-
    • Import of advanced weapons from Russia will boost Indian defense capability in the light of new security challenges from Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan and instability in North east.
    • Bilateral cooperation on cyber security will lead to a safe promotion of Digital India mission.
  • Economy-
    • The recent pacts will increase Russian investment in India’s defense corridors in UP and Tamil Nadu, thus leading to increased local employment and self-reliance India.
    • India can become a major player in fourth industrial revolution.
  • Geopolitical-
    • It will reflect the deepening of Russian cooperation in the light of India’s tilt towards USA and its western allies.
    • Deeper Indo-Russian ties will balance Russia’s tilt towards China and Pakistan

Significance of ties with Russia to India-

  • Defence-
    • Russian remains a key player for Indian defence imports, despite plans for diversification. It accounts for about 60 per cent of the inventory of the Indian armed forces. It is also involved with the ‘Make in India’ initiative in defence equipment.
  • Economy-
    • The trade target between India Russia is set as USD 30 billion by 2025
  • Energy-
    • It includes hydrocarbons (oil and gas), as well as nuclear. India aims to increase import of oil from Russia, from currently 1 per cent of all imports, to 4 or 5 per cent in the next five years.
    • Bharat Energy Center in Moscow was opened by India that will deepen bilateral cooperation and strengthen the ‘Roadmap for Cooperation in Hydrocarbons for 2019-24’
    • Petrochemicals- Russian investment in the Paradip cracker plant and an Indian investment in Arctic LNG-2 are being explored.
    • Green energy- With India announcing its net zero target date, the need to transition to greener energy sources has become imperative. A new Gas Task Force will bring in Russia as a major partner, including in the field of hydrogen.
    • Civil Nuclear Energy and Space-
      • Significant progress achieved in the construction of the remaining nuclear power plant units at Kudankulam (India) supported by India
    • Space exploration
      • Space cooperation is undergoing on joint activities in human spaceflight program and 4 Indian astronaut candidate are undergoing training in Russia for India’s Gaganyaan Mission.
    • Science and Technology-
      • A proposal to establish a Joint Commission on Science and Technology Cooperation is being explored.
      • It would encompass hi-tech areas like quantum, nanotechnology, cyber, AI, robotics, space and bio-technology. Pharmaceuticals, digital finance, chemicals and ceramics are all potential economic drivers of the relationship. Each of these is at the core of the fourth industrial revolution.
      • ‘Roadmap for Science, Technology & Innovation Cooperation’ has been signed
    • Transport and Connectivity-
      • The Russian companies are investing heavily in modernization of the railway sector in India while abiding by India’s Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat programmes.
      • The Russian Side expressed support for India’s proposal to include Chabahar port within the framework of INSTC.
    • Food security-
      • India is planning to lease land in Russian Far East, and cultivating it with Indian labour. The demographic dividend of India can complement demographic crisis. While China is already doing it, a similar strategy can be followed by India.
      • The Chennai-Vladivostok maritime connectivity corridor enhances scope for such cooperation. India would contribute to its food security by reducing load on its natural resources. For Russia, dependency on China would come down, giving Moscow the strategic leverage that it needs and wants.

Joint cooperation of India and Russia in global arena-

  • Defence-
    • Bilateral exercises have also increased in numbers and sophistication. The two nations were exploring different formats – including mobilisation of forces, impact of drone technology on modern warfare, and impact of cyber on future of conflict.
  • Energy and Space
    • Russia is the chairman of the Arctic Council from 2021-23 by Russia, and  India is an Observer in the Arctic Council. Both can lead to a sustainable exploration of Arctic region.
    • The successful Indo-Russia cooperation in the setting up of the Rooppur NPP in Bangladesh will be explored in third countries as well.
  • Cooperation in global bodies-
    • United Nations-
      • Both stress on the importance of reinvigorating multilateralism, with the central coordinating role played by the United Nations in world affairs.
      • India is a non-permanent member of the UNSC and Russia is a permanent member. India’s UNSC priorities includes commitment to strengthen and reform of the multilateral system, rule of law, fair and equitable international system and are anchored in the Indian ethos of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”
    • BRICS-
      • Under India’s chairmanship, recent summit held in 2021 with signing of New Delhi Declaration.
      • The New Development Bank (NDB) is vital to addressing development challenges, including health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)-
      • It has emerged as one of the key pillars of the emerging, more representative, democratic, just and multipolar world order based on international law, above all the UN Charter.

Why India is significant for Russia?

  • Economy-
    • Trade in pharmaceuticals continues to be one of the main items of India’s exports to Russia. Indian companies’ have huge participation in Russia’s localization programme under Pharma 2020 and Pharma 2030 schemes.
  • Cooperation in the Russian Far-East
    • Under India’s ‘Act Far-East Policy’ India could be a reliable partner in the development of the Russian Far-East. India has earlier committed US$ 1 billion Line of Credit for projects for development of the Russian Far East
    • Energy, transport and logistics, maritime connectivity, diamond processing, forestry, pharmaceuticals & healthcare, tourism and humanitarian fields are key areas of cooperation in the Russian Far-East
  • Balancing China in Asia-Rise of regional powers will lead to balance of Chinese hegemony in the region and beyond.

Recent challenges in India- Russia relationship-

  • Geopolitical ideology-
    • Afghanistan- While both country want stability in Afghanistan and curbs on export of terrorism and drugs, Moscow favors Taliban role and India is against it.
    • Pakistan- Russia’s tilt towards Pakistan reflects change in Russia’s stance towards India
    • Indo-Pacific- Russia considers India as USA’s partner in the region, and India feels Russia is on the same page as China.
    • Strategic balancing can also lead to isolation from both partners i.e USA and Russia
  • India-US relations-
    • India’s defence purchases from Russia could face threat from USA through sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
  • Economy-
    • USA and China has greatly surpassed Russia in terms of economic strength, thus its’s potential to support India is limited.
  • Russia has still not joined India promoted International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

Conclusion

Indo-Russia relation is a symbol of the long standing and time-tested partnership characterized by mutual trust, respect for each other’s core national interests and similarity of positions on various international and regional issues.

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