PM Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin are going to meet once again. PM Modi will be meeting Vladimir Putin in Russian city of Sochi in an informal summit. With regard to the meeting, the press release of MEA stated, “This will be an important occasion for the two leaders to exchange views on international matters in a broad and long-term perspective with the objective of further strengthening the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.” Press release further reads, “This informal Summit in Sochi between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin is in keeping with the tradition of regular consultations between India and Russia at the highest levels.” Few weeks ago, PM Modi had an informal interaction with Chinese President Xi Jinping. India’s relationship with China and Russia are undergoing a rapid shift in the wake of growing global challenges and changing geopolitical scenarios.
Two things that are most expected to dominate the minutes of the meeting are Indo- Russian ties and US sanctions under the ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’ (CAATSA). CAATSA is about countering the aggression of Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures. Tier II of the CAATSA Act is primarily concerned with the sanctions on the Russian interests which include its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions. Sanctions on Russia were imposed on the ground of its military intervention in Ukraine and its alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential elections.
Other agenda on the table would be India- Russia defence ties. The Indo-Russian relationship has been dominated by defense deals as well as Space & Technology co-operation. Russia has been one of the major sources of India’s arms import. However, Since 2008 US have bagged more arms deals than Russia. Though, Russia still remains India’s predominant defence supplier, Russia’s share in India’s arms imports is declining and USA and Israel’s share in India’s arms imports is increasing.
In recent times, the relations between India and Russia have been up-graded from “strategic partnership” to “special and privileged strategic partnership.” PM Modi tweeted:
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 20, 2018
However, there are some issues which have caused imbalance in the long historical relations between the two countries. First is Russia’s growing tilt towards Pakistan and China, especially Pakistan. To compensate the loss in arms deal, Russia is moving towards Pakistan which is a cause for worry for India. Russia supplied lethal armaments like MI 35 attack helicopters and SU 35 aircraft to Pakistan.
Second is India’s growing defence relationship with USA. According to IDSA, since 2008, the US has bagged more than $15 billion in arms deals including for the C-17 Globemaster and C-130J transport planes, P-8 (I) maritime reconnaissance aircraft, M777 light-weight howitzer, Harpoon missiles, and Apache and Chinook helicopters. This value is all set to increase further with the US likely accepting an Indian request for Sea Guardian drones. In addition, US defence contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing, are also strong contenders for a number of high-profile arms deals, including the recently floated tender notices for 110 fighter planes for the Indian Air Force, 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters for the Indian Navy, and 234 naval utility and multi-role helicopters. However, Russia is still the largest supplier of defence equipment to India. India has planned procurement from Russia, particularly the S-400 air defence system, Project 1135.6 frigates and Ka226T helicopters.
It is said that India and Russia are natural allies. Both the countries would be benefited by cordial relations. The responsibility to maintain and improve relations between the two countries lies on the shoulders of PM Modi and Putin. That’s why both leaders are giving greater personal attention to building and strengthening the India-Russia partnership.