Russia’s Putin to land in India to boost military, energy ties

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With rising tensions between India and Russia’s traditional ally China, the Russian leader faces complex regional dynamics.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive in India on Monday for his second foreign trip since the pandemic, seeking to bolster military and energy ties with a traditional ally offered by the United States.

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In its efforts to address a growing China, Washington has established quad security dialogue with India, Japan and Australia, raising concerns in Beijing and Moscow.

India was close to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, a relationship that has become enduring, with New Delhi calling it a “special and privileged strategic partnership”.

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“The friendship between India and Russia has stood the test of time,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Putin at a virtual summit in September.

“You have always been a great friend of India.”

It is the Russian leader’s second foreign trip since the coronavirus pandemic began – he skipped both the G20 and COP26 summits this year – following a June summit with US President Joe Biden in Geneva.

“It’s very symbolic,” said Nandan Unnikrishnan of the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation think-tank.

“It’s a sign of how they don’t want the relationship to stagnate or slow down due to lack of anything from the Russian side.”

But Putin is facing complicated regional dynamics, rising tensions between India and Russia’s traditional ally China after deadly clashes in a disputed Himalayan region.

“Russia’s influence in the region is very limited,” said Tatiana Belousova of OP Jindal Global University in Haryana, “mostly because of close ties with China and its reluctance to act inconsistently with Chinese regional interests.”

‘quite remarkable’

The Kremlin said last week that talks would be dominated by defense and energy issues, with Igor Sechin, boss of Russian energy giant Rosneft, traveling as “several important energy agreements” were on the table.

Russia has long been a major arms supplier to India, which seeks to modernize its armed forces, and one of their most high-profile current contracts is the long-range S-400 surface-to-air missile defense. system is.

The deal worth more than $5 billion was signed in 2018, and deliveries have reportedly begun, but it threatens growing ties between New Delhi and Washington.

The US has threatened sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which aims to rein in Russia, and
The US State Department said last week that no decision had been taken on any exemption for India.

“It is quite remarkable that India has still decided to go ahead with the S-400 deal despite US disapproval,” Belousova said.

New Delhi has long sought to diversify its military imports, but analysts believe it may take some time before it moves away from Russia.

According to Unnikrishnan, military equipment was “paramount” for India in view of “unabated” tensions with Pakistan. “You’re going to try and nurture what’s needed to make sure.”

India is also keen to increase domestic production and has started a joint venture with Russia to manufacture AK-203 assault rifles.

India and Russia usually hold annual summits, but the last personal meeting of the leaders was held in Brazil on the sidelines of the 2019 BRICS summit.

“The leaders will review the prospects of the state and bilateral ties and discuss ways to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement last month.

The foreign and defense ministers of both the countries will also hold talks on Monday.

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