Narendra Modi Russia tour: Indian envoy to Russia, Pankaj Saran said that the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is an opportunity for India to strengthen its economic and trade ties with Moscow as the two sides already enjoy very strong political relations. Stating, this is the first time that India has been invited as a guest country and the first time that an Indian Prime Minister has been invited as the guest of honour, Saran told ANI, “It’s a matter of great privilege for the country that we have been recognised as a major economic power of the world.” “The platform is an opportunity for India to convey the area of its interests, convey flagship programs as a country and invite Russian businessmen and Russian technology to India. This is also an opportunity for Russia to participate in the growth story of India. On the other hand, our own companies to explore investments in Russia,” added Saran.
On Defense ties and cooperation with Russia, the Indian ambassador said that New Delhi is now aiming towards increased joint ventures in terms of manufacturing military equipment. “70 percent of our military equipments are of Russian origin and now we want to migrate more towards greater co-production and joint ventures and greater manufacturing of defense items in India. So we want Russian companies to come, set-up base in India, manufacture in India, share the technology with Indian private companies and public sector companies and this is beginning to happen,” said Saran.
He added that the agreement reached between the two sides on the production of the Kamov helicopters and the Sukhoi aircrafts is a good example of this. He added that defense cooperation with Russia is much more intense now as presently it is just not limited to manufacturing but also holding joint exercises and exchange of high level visits. Speaking on Russia’s nuclear energy cooperation with India, the envoy said, “Today Russia is the only foreign partner of India in the establishment of nuclear energy in the country. We have had discussions with many countries but on the ground Russia is the only country.”
“In the last one year, the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant units 1 and 2 have become operational and construction has begun for unit 3 and unit 4 and we are under discussion for starting work on units 5 and 6.Also Russia has agreed to steadily increase the degree of localization in the establishment of the nuclear plants in India, which means that the Russian side is willing to make more and more of the Indian manufactured components and equipments into the production. So there is an element of sharing of technology,” he added.
When asked on the recent Russia-Pakistan joint military drill, Saran said, “Our relations with Russia are based on mutual trust and have a very firm foundation. So we only need to look at how we can strengthen our own relations and not focus on what third countries are doing.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Russia on June 1 for the annual India-Russia summit wherein he is expected to unveil, along with Russian president Vladimir Putin, an ambitious vision document to outline the agenda for economic cooperation in the coming decades.