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  • Context (IE) | (IE): The Indian PM was in Russia for a two-day visit. The meeting coincides with a NATO meeting in Washington DC, celebrating 75 years of alliance.
  • Earlier, the PM visited Italy for a multilateral meeting of G7 leaders. Indian PM’s visit is the first bilateral visit after being sworn in and the first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine.
  • Underlining a priority: Contrary to the tradition of the first bilateral visit to a neighbour (Bhutan 2014, Maldives & Sri Lanka 2019), the PM prioritised Russia.
  • From India’s perspective, the visit is part of a series of annual bilateral summits between the two countries’ leaders (since 2000).

Highlights of visit

  • Expedite delivery: Both agreed to encourage joint manufacturing of “spare parts & other products” in India to maintain Russian-origin arms and defence equipment under the Make-in-India programme.
    • Spare parts and maintenance support for Mi-17 V5 choppers, the Su-30 MKI fighters, and the RD-33 engines of MiG-29 jets for the IAF and its naval variant MiG-29 K fighters would likely face delays.
  • New Working Group on Technological Cooperation: To be discussed during the meeting of IRIGC-M&MTC (Intergovernmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation) in Moscow.
  • Reiteration of friendship: While addressing the Indian diaspora in Moscow, the PM called Russia an ‘all-weather friend’.
  • Indians in the Russian army: Russia has broadly heeded India’s call to end the recruitment of Indians as support staff to the Russian military and return the already working.
  • Order of St Andrew the Apostle: PM Narendra Modi became the first Indian leader to be honoured with Russia’s highest honour.
  • Focus areas of Bilateral Economic Cooperation:
    • Eliminating non-tariff trade barriers related to bilateral trade.
    • Continuation of dialogue in liberalising bilateral trade.
    • Discuss the possibility of establishing the EAEU-India Free Trade Area.
    • Achieve a mutual trade volume of more than $100 billion by 2030 (as mutually agreed).
    • Increased supplies of goods from India to achieve balanced bilateral trade.
    • Reinvigoration of investment activities, i.e., within the framework of special investment regimes.
    • Development of a bilateral settlement system using national currencies.
    • Develop cooperation in key energy sectors, including nuclear energy, oil refining, and petrochemicals, and facilitate mutual and international energy security.

Importance of Russia for India

  • Critical defence supply: With 60-70 per cent of Indian defence equipment sourced from Russia, defence cooperation has evolved from a buyer-seller framework to one involving joint R&D & co-development.
    • Examples: S-400 Triumf systems, MiG-29 fighter aircraft, Su-30MKI fighters, Kamov helicopters, licensed production of T-90 tanks, AK-203 assault rifles, BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier (former Soviet and Russian warship Admiral Gorshkov).
  • Technology sharing: India must constantly verify the weaponry and technologies that Moscow supplies to Beijing and the nature of their intelligence-sharing arrangements.
    • In 2022, President Putin assured India that Russia would not transfer the military technologies it had shared with India to any other country.
  • Oil trade: Since the Ukraine war, India has been buying large amounts of Russian oil at a discount to cushion the inflationary impact of rising crude prices.
    • Overall bilateral trade reached an all-time high of $65.70 billion in FY 2023-24.
    • India’s $61.44 billion imports comprise Russian oil and petroleum products, fertilisers, mineral resources, precious stones and metals, and vegetable oils.
  • Diplomatic tightrope: According to its official position, India supports “peace, respect for international law and support for the UN Charter” and “strongly advocates a return to dialogue and diplomacy.”
    • To balance, India reiterated that respect for states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity is essential to the international order.

India’s role in Russia-Ukraine Peace process

  • India is positioning itself as a neutral player that could mediate between the two sides.
  • In 2022, India weighed in with Russia on grain shipment from ports on the Black Sea.
  • Ukraine invited the Indian PM to visit during their meeting at the G7 in Italy.
  • India did not sign the joint communique of the peace summit on Ukraine hosted by Switzerland.
  • India had also conveyed to Moscow global concerns about the safety of nuclear plants in Ukraine.
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