India’s “unique security ties” with Russia remain unaffected by the growing Indo-US relationship, highly placed sources said here ahead of President Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to this country.
The strategic ties with Russia have been “persistent, continuous and critical” element of India’s foreign policy policy, the sources said.
Putin will arrive in India in mid-October for the five- nation BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Summit to be held in Goa as well as annual Indo-Russia bilateral Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While admitting that Indo-Russia ties in the area of trade and economy have not remained the same, the sources said the effort during the upcoming bilateral Summit would be to bring the relationship “back on track”.
The sources also mentioned that Indo-Russia military cooperation was undergoing a change as India not only was procuring defence equipment off the shelf, but was also inviting Russians to take part in ‘make in India’ defence joint ventures.
In this regard, they cited the recent agreement on the manufacture of 200 Russian Kamov 226 T light choppers in India. The deal is estimated to be USD one billion under the ‘make in India’ initiative.
The sources also brought out importance of regional consultations with Russia such as on Afghanistan.
Both India and Russia know that the bilateral ties were “vital” for balance in Asia-Pacific region, they said.
They also warned that Indo-Russia ties should not be reduced to the “litmus test” of Russia-Pakistan relationship.
Apart from the conventional key areas which were very critical components of the bilateral ties including military technology cooperation, energy and civil nuclear sector, India was also keen to explore the new areas of collaboration such as infrastructure and railways, the sources said.
Talking about robust ties in the diamond sector, they said there were areas like agriculture, food processing, mining and ship building where Russians have strong expertise which could be used by India.
This will also give a boost to bilateral commercial ties. Bilateral trade in 2015 amounted to USD 7.83 billion (decline of 17.74 per cent over the previous year), with Indian export amounting to USD 2.26 billion and imports from Russia USD 5.57 billion.
In December 2014, the leaders of the two countries set a target of USD 30 billion bilateral trade by 2025.