India has “misgivings” about Russia’s limited contacts with the Taliban as a “legitimate political force” in Afghanistan, a joint report by an Indian and a Russian think tank has said. The report also said that India was concerned over China’s reported nuclear ties with Pakistan and, according to the Indian view, the cooperation violates China’s commitments as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The report prepared by Russian International Affairs Council and Vivekananda International Foundation to mark the 70th year of Indo-Russia ties, examines various facets of the time-tested relations between the two countries besides delving into key geopolitical issues. “As regards Afghanistan, although Russia and India do not differ much in their views on the situation in the country, India has misgivings about Russia’s limited contacts with Taliban as a ‘legitimate political force’ in Afghanistan,” it said. Referring to defence cooperation, the report said the Russian side has raised the issue of “lengthy bureaucratic procedures” in India related to tendering for military equipment and contract negotiations, which can take longer than delivery time frames themselves. “More frank exchanges between the two sides are required to redress some structural issues in the relationship and to agree on mutually beneficial terms of long-standing deals in future,” it said, adding joint development and manufacture of defence platform is a reliable option to transfer of technology.
The report found that in the near future, Russia’s share in the Indian market may decrease, although it will retain its leadership in absolute terms. Despite the US emerging as the biggest supplier of defence hardware to India in the recent years, the country continues to be heavily dependent on Russia as almost 70 per cent of its defence equipment is still based on Soviet era platforms, according to the report. It said in India’s view China’s expansion into Eurasia is a counter to the US pivot towards the Asia-Pacific, apart from creating markets for its excess capacity in certain sectors
“China’s military and nuclear cooperation with Pakistan continues to be of serious concern to India. This includes civil nuclear cooperation that in Indian view violates China’s commitments as an NSG member,” it said. The report said Russia’s military ties with Pakistan is a new development that India has noted with concern. For its part, Russia has concerns regarding India’s growing ties with the US.
It said despite the privileged political partnership between the two countries, trade and economic ties remain the weakest part of the relations. In 1989 and 1990, Russia’s share in India’s foreign trade was 16 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. In 1994, it dwindled to 2 per cent and in 2015-2016 it further came down to 0.96 per cent, said the report. Cooperation in oil and gas industry is extremely promising, as Russian on-shore technology is considered one of the most advanced in the world, it said. The report said India could consider investing in hydrocarbon exploration in the Arctic.