New Delhi: Indo-Russian relations took a major step forward as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin had a Summit meeting December 6 after a 2+2 meeting of Defence and Foreign Ministers of the two countries. The visit assumes significance as Moscow has moved closer to Beijing and New Delhi is perceived to be closer to Washington.
However, Indo-Russian relations appear to be growing stronger in this situation as Putin said “we see India as a great power, longstanding friend. Naturally, we’re concerned about everything that has to do with terrorism. Fight against terrorism is also fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. With that regard, we are concerned about the developments of the situation in Afghanistan.”
As Modi said “the relation between India and Russia is truly a unique and reliable model of interstate friendship. In the last few decades, the world witnessed many fundamental changes and different kinds of geopolitical equations emerged but the friendship of India and Russia remained constant.”
Soon after landing, Putin went straight to Hyderabad House in the capital for a Summit meeting with Prime Minister Modi. Earlier in the day, India and Russia sat down for the first 2+2 format dialogue to discuss key bilateral, regional and international issues. Russia is the only country outside of QUAD comprising Japan, Australia and US with whom India has the 2+2 format.
As External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said “India-Russia partnership is steady and strong.” However, relations between Moscow and Washington continuing to be still not friendly and border tensions continuing between Beijing-New Delhi, this new axis of Moscow-New Delhi gives a new meaning to the international scenario. Delhi does have a rather sensitive path to tread and its hoped that the Geneva Summit meeting between Putin and American President Joe Biden will cool the tensions. Yet, it still does not look in the realm of possibility of a bridge being built between Washington and Moscow.
With the Bear and Dragon getting closer, but the relations between Delhi and Beijing as of now being tense and till the boundary dispute and other issues continue to boil, normalization appears a far cry. One of the major takeaways from the Putin visit would be the two leaders focusing on tackling terrorism and boosting defence ties which has been one of the key factors in Delhi-Moscow ties ever since the days of erstwhile Soviet Union.
Ahead of the Modi-Putin Summit, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shogyu under the framework of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation. External Affairs Minister Jaishankar had a meeting with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov. After the one-on-one meeting between Modi-Putin and a dinner hosted by the Russian leader, he left New Delhi.