Putin coming next month? Arctic Council, Afghanistan and much more to be the focus

By: |
November 11, 2021 3:05 PM

Though officially no dates have been announced, according to sources, the Russian leader accompanied by a high level delegation will arrive here in the first week of December.

modi putin meetIt will be a working visit, during which at the end of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President Putin, several agreements are likely to be inked. (File photo: PTI)

The annual Indo-Russia Summit is expected to take place early next month and this time the Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to be physically present.

Though officially no dates have been announced, according to sources, the Russian leader accompanied by a high level delegation will arrive here in the first week of December. It will be a working visit, during which at the end of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President Putin, several agreements are likely to be inked.

Last year, in December, the annual summit between the two countries for the first time in 20 years was cancelled. As has been reported earlier, the cancellation was attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic by officials; however there were experts like Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU, who said that the cancellation of the summit was due to Russia’s unease over the `Quad’ (the US, Japan, Australia and India).

Importance of the expected visit

This year the summit is expected to be focused on not only the bilateral cooperation in defence but also fighting the menace of terrorism, drug trafficking, extremism and the situation in Afghanistan.

Russia has invited India to talks in Troika format in Moscow to discuss the situation in war torn Afghanistan and how India and other countries in the region can work together.

The visit/summit is taking place at a time when India will be taking the delivery of the S-400 Air Defence System towards the end of the year. Sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online “The first regimental set of S-400 Triumf ‘SA-21 Growler’ air defence systems from Russia is arriving at the end of the year as per the timeline of the contract.”

The contract for the air defence system was inked during the annual summit between the two countries in 2018 in the presence of President Vladimir Putin. In 2019, Prime Minister Modi was in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok for the annual summit. PM Modi was also the guest of honour for the fifth Eastern Economic forum that year.

And in 2020 there was no summit due to COVID-19. Therefore, this year, the Russian leader who has not been travelling much is likely to visit India. The only other visit he has made out of Moscow was to Geneva for the summit-level meeting with the US President Joe Biden.

What could be the agenda of talks this year?

There have been several high level visits from both sides. And the effort is to deepen cooperation in various sectors including hydrocarbons, space, trade, finance, connectivity, COVID-vaccines, innovations and healthcare and atomic energy.

India has already started using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine which is being produced here locally. Russia had also sent medical aid during the surge in COVID cases during the second wave earlier this year.

The Annual Summit Format

India follows the annual summit mechanism format with two countries in the world – Russia and Japan. And the summit takes place alternatively between the respective countries. So far 20 annual summits have taken place between India and Russia.

India and Russia are working together on Afghanistan. On Wednesday, Russian National Security Advisor (Secretary of the Security Council) Nikolai P Patrushev was in New Delhi to attend the Regional Dialogue on Afghanistan. This was his second visit to India this year to talk about working together to deal with Afghanistan under Taliban 2.0.

India & Arctic Council

Whenever the annual summit takes place between the two countries, India’s involvement in the Arctic Council will come up for discussion. Why? Because, this year Russia is holding the presidency.

The next Russia-India-China ministerial is also expected to take place later this year.

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