Strengthening India-Russia strategic partnership amid global tensions

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Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin, Russia, India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to embark on an official visit to Russia, underscoring the enduring and multifaceted partnership between India and Russia. As he prepares for the 22nd annual bilateral summit, Modi expressed his anticipation of meeting his “friend” President Vladimir Putin and reviewing all aspects of bilateral cooperation, while also sharing perspectives on various regional and global issues. This visit comes at a significant juncture, as it marks Modi’s first foreign bilateral visit since his reelection and his first visit to Russia since the Ukraine conflict began in February 2022.

The India-Russia relationship has been characterized by a “special and privileged strategic partnership” that has seen significant advancements over the past decade. This partnership encompasses diverse areas including energy, security, trade, investment, health, education, culture, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges. Modi emphasized that India and Russia seek to play a supportive role in fostering a peaceful and stable region, a sentiment that will be a focal point during the upcoming talks.

This visit is particularly notable as it follows a period of heightened scrutiny from the West over India’s relationship with Russia, especially in the context of the ongoing Ukraine conflict. Despite this, India has maintained strong ties with Russia, highlighted by a substantial increase in bilateral trade which reached $65 billion last year, driven primarily by India’s increased purchases of discounted Russian coal and oil.

Modi’s two-day visit, scheduled from July 8 to July 9, will include a private dinner hosted by Putin, meetings with the Indian diaspora in Moscow, and a series of high-level talks. The discussions between Modi and Putin will cover a broad spectrum of bilateral relations, including defense cooperation, investment, education, culture, and people-to-people ties. These talks are expected to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov highlighted the significance of Modi’s visit, noting that the West is “jealously” monitoring the trip, which indicates the high importance attached to it. Peskov remarked that the extensive program of Modi’s visit would allow for both formal and informal discussions between the two leaders, emphasizing the depth and importance of the Russia-India relationship.

The summit is anticipated to address several key issues, including the trade imbalance between the two countries. India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar pointed out that the visit offers a great opportunity for Modi and Putin to hold direct talks on trade and other pertinent issues. The discussions are expected to pave the way for resolving certain bilateral issues and enhancing cooperation in various sectors.

Furthermore, the visit is set against the backdrop of India’s nuanced stance on the Ukraine conflict. New Delhi has consistently called for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the conflict, abstaining from UN resolutions condemning Russia and declining to sign the final document at the Swiss peace summit on the Ukraine conflict due to Russia’s exclusion. This stance has allowed India to navigate its relationship with Russia while maintaining a balanced foreign policy.

The strategic partnership between India and Russia is not limited to bilateral ties but extends to regional and global dimensions. Both countries have a vested interest in ensuring stability and peace in the region, and their cooperation spans critical areas such as defense and energy security. The summit is likely to result in further agreements and initiatives that will bolster this partnership.

Economically, the increase in bilateral trade is a testament to the robust economic ties between the two countries. India’s energy needs have been significantly met by Russian supplies, and this dynamic is expected to continue as both countries explore new avenues for economic cooperation. The focus on investment, trade, and economic collaboration will be a key component of the summit discussions.

The cultural ties between India and Russia have historically been strong, with significant exchanges in the fields of education, culture, and tourism. Modi’s visit will also include interactions with the Indian community in Russia, highlighting the importance of people-to-people ties in strengthening bilateral relations. These exchanges play a crucial role in fostering mutual understanding and goodwill between the two nations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia for the 22nd annual bilateral summit with President Vladimir Putin is a significant event that underscores the enduring strategic partnership between India and Russia. Despite the complexities of the global geopolitical landscape, the visit reaffirms the commitment of both countries to deepen their cooperation across various domains. As Modi and Putin engage in comprehensive discussions, the outcomes of the summit are expected to further solidify the special and privileged partnership, contributing to regional stability and global peace.

Modi’s subsequent visit to Austria, following the Russia trip, will also be closely watched as part of India’s broader diplomatic engagements. The outcomes of these visits will provide insights into India’s evolving foreign policy priorities and its approach to balancing relationships in a multipolar world.

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