Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for extending help and support to India in its fight against COVID-19.
In a telephonic conversation with the Russian President, PM Modi said the prompt Russian support to India was a symbol of our enduring partnership.
Russia has sent more than 22 tons of humanitarian aid to India, which include oxygen-producing equipment, artificial lung ventilation devices, medical monitors and medicine packages.
In his conversation with the Prime Minister, President Putin expressed solidarity with the people of India and assured that Russia would extend all possible support to respond to the crisis.
Besides, the two leaders also reviewed the diverse bilateral cooperation between both countries and agreed to establish a 2+2 ministerial dialogue between foreign ministers and defence ministers to add further momentum to the bilateral strategic partnership.
Russia will only be the fourth country with which India has such a mechanism of a 2+2 dialogue - the others being the US, Japan and Australia.
In the following brief, we will try and understand from experts how significant is this move and how is it going to add further momentum to India-Russia partnership.
Excerpts from debate
Key-highlights of the discussion
During their conversation, Modi and Putin also discussed cooperation between the two sides to fight the global pandemic.
Sputnik V vaccine: During the talks, the focus was also on Russia's COVID vaccine Sputnik V whose first batch will be arriving soon.
It is the third vaccine India has given approval to after COVISHIELD and COVAXIN. Indian companies will be producing 850 million doses of the vaccine, which not only be used in India, Russia but also third countries.
Cooperation in renewable energy: The two leaders also noted the scope for increasing cooperation in renewable energy, including the hydrogen economy. They also recalled important decisions made during their last summit inVladivostok in September 2019.
What is the significance of India and Russia’s 2+2 Dialogue?
Coverage of important issues: The decision to establish 2+2 Dialogue at the ministerial level is a significant development as talks between ministers covers the entire gamut of important aspects of relationships. And other than the leadership dialogue, it cannot get anyway better because these are two heavyweight ministers.
First non-QUAD member: So far, India has this mechanism with only three countries, United States, Japan, and Australia. But what is significant is Russia is the first non-Quad member country with which New Delhi will now have this mechanism.
Positive response: The Quad countries where India have 2+2 dialogue, it has been very important and useful.
Russia’s arms sales to India have been the mainstay of the bilateral relationship since the former USSR and India signed a deal in 1971.
More than 60% of India’s defence forcesare equipped with Russian weapons.
India’s ambition to become an arms exporteralso explains why it collaborates with Russia in producing arms.
Both countries are cooperating in the manufacture of the “Brahmos” missile system and licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraftand T-90
They reportedly planto jointly manufacture AK-203 rifles, involving full technology transfer.
India’s decision to buy Russia’s S-400 missile system– providing India with a sophisticated anti-aircraft weapon – reflects its wish to maximise its military and diplomatic options by being able to diversify its arms suppliers.
Indian PM Modi had visited Russia' far eastern city of Vladivostok in September of 2019 for the summit.
While Defence the key pillar of a partnership between the two countries, Russia trained four Indian astronauts who are part of the Gaganyaan mission, India's first manned mission to space.
Later this year, Russian President Putin will visit India for the annual India Russia bilateral summit that alternates between the 2 countries.
2020 was the first time the summit could not happen due to the covid pandemic.
India has a very time-tasted and old relationship with Russia. However, some differences of opinions have cropped up and the best way to solve that and further improve the bonding is by conducting effective dialogues. In this regard, 2+2 dialogue at the ministerial level assumes greater significance.
What is 2+2 dialogue?
A ‘two plus two dialogue’ is a term — adopted in foreign parleys — used for installation of a dialogue mechanism between two countries’ defence and external affairs ministries.
To put it simply, ‘two plus two dialogue’ is an expression used to indicate that two appointed ministers from each country, the ministers of defence and external affairs in this case, will meet up to discuss the two countries’ strategic and security interests.
The goal is to establish a diplomatic, yet fruitful, conversation between the two countries’ respective heads of defence and external affairs.
Japan is known to draw from the format ‘two plus two dialogue’ has to offer for years now.