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  India   Politics  07 Dec 2021  PM, Putin hold 'productive' talks, will upgrade ties; 28 pacts signed

PM, Putin hold 'productive' talks, will upgrade ties; 28 pacts signed

Published : Dec 7, 2021, 1:17 am IST
Updated : Dec 7, 2021, 6:53 am IST

28 agreements signed in the areas of defence, trade, energy, culture, space and other fields

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk during their meeting in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec.6, 2021. (Photo:AP)
 Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk during their meeting in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec.6, 2021. (Photo:AP)

New Delhi: In his “short but highly productive and substantive” visit that lasted just a few hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday evening held excellent discussions” at the 21st annual bilateral summit between the two nations after which both decided to further strengthen their “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership” and signed 28 agreements in the defence, trade, energy, culture, space and other fields. However, a proposed key defence mutual logistics pact -- Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) --was “put off” as there were “some issues”. Stating this, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla did not, however, elaborate on what the “issues” were, but hoped the RELOS agreement would be inked soon. The foreign secretary also confirmed that crucial S-400 missile supplies from Russia to India had begun earlier this month and would continue. Four other defence pacts were inked between India and Russia, including one for the manufacture of over six lakh AK-203 assault rifles at Amethi in UP.

Hours after defence minister Rajnath Singh, at the first 2+2 dialogue with Russia, told Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and defence minister Sergey Shoigu that India had suffered “unprovoked aggression on our northern border since the early Summer of 2020” -- a clear reference to Chinese actions last year in Ladakh without directly naming Beijing -- both President Putin and Mr Modi discussed a range of regional and global issues, including apparently the subject of strained Sino-Indian tensions in their talks on Monday evening.

Ahead of the summit, the Russian President was quoted as saying: “India is a long-standing friend… We see India as a great power and our military ties are unparalleled… We cooperate greatly in the military and technical sphere like no other country. We develop high technologies together as well as produce in India.”

The situation in Afghanistan was also discussed between Mr Putin and Mr Modi, with both leaders reiterating a joint tough stand against terrorism, including the threat of cross-border terrorism from both ISIS and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, and agreeing that Afghan territory should not be used for terrorism, with the Russian President expressing concern. A joint statement was issued titled “Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity”, which said: “The leaders emphasised that Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist groups including ISIS, Al Qaeda, LeT, etc. They reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism ... (and) to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism.”

The situation in the “Indo-Pacific region” was also discussed between New Delhi and Moscow, with the Russian side reportedly expressing concern over the new AUKUS pact between the United States, Britain and Australia. New Delhi, on the other hand, is learnt to have expressed its concerns vis-a-vis China. Both India and Russia agreed that “the emerging regional security architecture should be free, open, transparent and inclusive, based on universally recognised principles of international law and aimed at maintaining international peace and security”.  

Civil nuclear energy cooperation and combating the Covid-19 pandemic was also discussed. Mr Shringla said discussions were held on enhancing trade, connectivity and energy cooperation, including import of crude oil and petrochemicals. Also included was the subject of import of coking coal from Russia for India’s steel industry. Economic cooperation in the Russian Far East was also discussed, along with connectivity projects such as the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor.

Welcoming the Russian President, Mr Modi said: “I know this is your second foreign trip in the last two years during the corona period. The way you have an attachment to India… it is a symbol of your personal commitment and it shows the importance of India-Russia relations and for this I am very grateful to you. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, there has been no change in the pace of relations between India and Russia. Our Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership continues to grow stronger.”

Mr Modi added: “The year 2021 is important for our bilateral relations in many ways. This year marks five decades of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation and two decades of our Strategic Partnership. It is my pleasure to be with you again in this special year because you have been the main driver of the remarkable progress our Strategic Partnership has made over the past 20 years… India-Russia friendship has been a constant among all these variables. Both the countries have not only cooperated with each other without any hesitation but have also taken special care of each other's sensitivities. It is truly a unique and reliable model of inter-state friendship.”

Mr Modi added: “We have been in constant touch on Afghanistan and other regional issues. The regional partnership that began with the Eastern Economic Forum and the Vladivostok summit is today turning into a real cooperation between the Russian Far East and the states of India. We are adopting a long-term vision to make our relationship closer even in the economic field. We have set a target of $30 billion in trade and $50 billion in investment by 2025. We must guide our business communities to reach these goals.”

He added: “Our agreements today in various sectors will help in this. Our defence cooperation is further strengthened through co-development and co-production under the Make in India programme. Our cooperation in space and civil nuclear fields is also progressing.”  

Tags: president vladimir putin, narendra modi, india-russia, russian foreign minister sergey lavrov
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi