On July 14, 2021, Russian Ambassador to India, Nikolay Kudashev told the media that India and Russia will hold the first 2 + 2 ministerial meeting later this year before a summit meeting between Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- India had friendly relations with the erstwhile USSR and even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia has significant position in India’s Foreign Policy, Russia has been a longstanding time tested partner of India.
- In April 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin agreed to establish “2 + 2 ministerial dialogue” between foreign and defence ministers to add further momentum to the bilateral strategic partnership.
About 2 + 2 Dialogue with Russia
- India and Russia have decided to establish the 2 + 2 dialogue on the lines of India-US 2 + 2 dialogue.
- India also holds 2 + 2 dialogue with Australia and Japan but Russia is the first non-QUAD member with which India is to hold the dialogue.
QUAD consists of India, USA, Japan and Australia
Russia’s Importance for India
- Russia still dominates India’s defence inventory to the tune of about 70 per cent, even as India is diversifying its defence trade partners.
- Russia reaffirmed its unwavering support to India for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
- Russia supported India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
- Russia remains a unique partner country of India that is willing to transfer critical technologies.
- Both India and Russia are part of organisations like BRICS, SCO, G-20 and ASEAN and therefore share common issues such as fighting the menace of terrorism, promoting trade and investment and climate change, etc.
- The growing Russia-China and Russia Pakistan relationship are cause for concern with respect to India’s national security.
- The key defence systems of India such as S-400 will be supplied by Russia.
- Trade between Russia and India amounted to US$10.11 billion in 2019-20 and both countries have invested in each other’s oil and gas sectors. They have set a bilateral trade target of US$ 30 billion 2025.
- Earlier, India and Russia have agreed to establish the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), cooperation at the Eurasian Economic Union and Chennai- Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor. The building of INSTC is aimed at reducing the carriage cost between India and Russia by about 30% and bringing down the transit time from 40 days by more than half.
- Russia trained the astronauts shortlisted for the Human Space Flight Programme of India.
- The Nuclear power plant that is being built in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu is built with Russian Cooperation.
- Sputnik V vaccine of Russia for COVID-19 is the third vaccine to be approval by India after COVISHIELD and COVAXIN. Sputnik V is the first vaccine to be approved by India which is made outside the territory of India.
- In the world of growing challenges and opportunities, India-Russia relations have stood time. Although India extended and diversified its defence trade partners with the passage of time, but even now, Russia continues to be the largest defence supplier of India.
- In order to continue this historic relationship, Russia must ensure that it is ready to combat terrorism and other challenges which poses a serious threat to India’s national security.
- In present times, India can neither wholly depend on QUAD member countries (USA, Japan and Australia), nor on its age old partners.
- India has to rebuild on its strengths and attract Russian investments in infrastructure and seek cooperation in deep sea explorations, building knowledge based economy, skill development, agriculture and connectivity.
- The focus must be on increasing bilateral trade and building people- to people contacts. New Delhi can demonstrate its commitment by delivering ‘Act Far East’ policy and showing Moscow that in an increasingly polarized world, India is capable and confident of working with multiple alignments, no matter if they are at cross purposes.