No matter which government has been in power in both countries, India-Russia ties have always remained stable. However, very few would have thought that both countries would be in a position to neutralise western hegemony. The death knell in West’s coffin will be belted through cooperation in the Arctic.
PM Modi addresses EEF
Due to some existing circumstances, PM Modi was not able to physically arrive at the 2022 edition of Eastern Economic Forum. However the spirit was not an ounce less in his virtual address to the leaders present at the forum. On expected lines, PM Modi hailed energy cooperation as the game-changer in India-Russia ties. This is the reason why Russia’s Vladivostok and Iran ended up becoming strategic locations for both the countries. In his address, PM Modi was all praises for the International North-South Transport Corridor, the Chennai- Vladivostok Maritime Corridor or the Northern Sea Route.
He also congratulated President Putin for envisioning the prominence of Russia’s Far East. Quote, “The forum, established in 2015, has today become a major global forum for international cooperation in the development of the Russian Far East. For this, I appreciate President Putin’s vision, and also congratulate him,…” (sic)
Adding how India’s Foreign Policy establishment has been proactive towards collaboration in the Far-East from 2019, he added, “At that time, we announced India’s ‘Act Far-East’ policy. As a result, cooperation of India with the Russian Far East has increased in various fields. Today, this policy has become a key pillar of the ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ of India and Russia.” (sic)
The hidden Gem called Russia’s Far-East
Russia’s Far-East is one of the hidden gems on planet earth. The region is full of resources like fish, oil, natural gas, pulp, wood, diamonds, iron ore, coal, gold, silver, lead, and zinc among others. Recently, Rosneft, a Russian oil company, announced that it has discovered 82 million tons of oil in the Russian Arctic, which is connected to the Far East.
India’s presence in Far-East
Probably, India was well aware of this potential. In both the Arctic and the Far East, India has cumulatively invested $15 billion in oil and gas projects. Icing on the cake is that most of these investments are owned by the Indian government itself. Imperial Energy, Russia, is fully owned by ONGC. In Sakhalin-I oil and gas plant, LNG holds 20 per cent of share. ONGC invested in Sakhalin way back in 2001.
ONGC also holds a 26 per cent share of CSJC Vankorneft, a Russian oil company operating in Eastern Siberia. When the deal was finalised, it cost $2.2 billion to the Indian government. By spending another $2.02 billion, a consortium of Oil India Limited (OIL), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), and Bharat Petro Resources Limited (BPRL) bought another 23.9 percent of Vankorneft. In essence, 49.9 per cent of shares in Vankorneft are held by India alone. The consortium also holds 29.9 per cent stake in Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazdobycha LLC, another oil and gas exploration company.
Strategic dimension of India and Russia pitching for Far East
Additionally, Russia is also uplifting the economic prospects of the region with 2,700 projects through state support. Here also, India is not far behind. During the 6th conference of EEF, India and Russia agreed to increase cooperation in shipbuilding, agro-industry, ceramics, strategic and rare earth minerals, and diamonds.
Other than availing cheaper resources, India has a bigger strategic interest in the Arctic as well. If you look closely at the map, the region lies extremely close to America. Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, easternmost federal subject of Russia lies very close to Alaska, which once was in fact a Russian territory.
Far East will achieve what Cold war could not
By establishing its prominent presence in Russia ‘s Far East, India will be in a much better position to impact American interest. This is one of the main reasons why India seems to be ready to bear trade-deficit in its bilateral trade with Russia. Economically empowered Russia will give us huge leverage in the future.
Only connectivity to the far-east was a hurdle which is also being sorted out through Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor. Slowly every hurdle will be eliminated, along with western hegemony blocking the ties. The Far East Forum is going to do what the Cold War could not achieve.
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