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Indo-Russian relations refer to the bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation. During the Cold War, India and the Soviet Union (USSR) enjoyed a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia inherited the close relationship with India, even as India improved its relations with the West after the end of the Cold War.
Traditionally, the Indo-Russian strategic partnership has been built on five major components: politics, defence, civil nuclear energy, anti-terrorism co-operation and space. These five major components were highlighted in a speech given by former Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai in Russia. However, in recent years a sixth component, economic, has grown in importance with both countries setting a target for US$20 billion in bilateral trade by 2015. In order to facilitate this target both countries are looking to develop a free trade agreement. Bilateral trade between both countries in 2012 grew by over 24%.
The powerful IRIGC is the main body that conducts affairs at the governmental level between both countries. Both countries are members of many international bodies where they jointly collaborate closely on matters of shared national interest. Important examples include the UN, BRICS, G20 and SCO where India has observer status and has been asked by Russia to become a full member. Russia has stated publicly that it supports India receiving a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. In addition, Russia has expressed interest in joining SAARC with observer status in which India is a founding member.
India is the second largest market for the Russian defence industry. In 2004, more than 70% of the Indian Military's hardware came from Russia, making Russia the chief supplier of defence equipment. India has an embassy in Moscow and two consulates-general (in Saint Petersburg and Vladivostok). Russia has an embassy in New Delhi and four consulates-general (in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai).
- 1 Soviet Union and India
- 2 Russia and India
- 2.1 Political relations
- 2.2 Military relationship
- 2.3 Economic relations
- 2.4 Co-operation in the Energy sector
- 2.5 Space Co-operation
- 2.6 Science and Technology
- 2.7 North-South Transport Corridor
- 2.8 Cooperation in the Cultural Sphere
- 2.9 Terrorism
- 3 Nuclear Deals
- 4 See also
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
- 7 References
Soviet Union and India
A cordial relationship with India that began in the 1950s represented the most successful of the Soviet attempts to foster closer relations with Third World countries. The relationship began with a visit by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the Soviet Union in June 1955 and Khrushchev's return trip to India in the fall of 1955. While in India, Khrushchev announced that the Soviet Union supported Indian sovereignty over the disputed territory of the Kashmir region and over Portuguese coastal enclaves, e.g. Goa.
The Soviet Union's strong relations with India had a negative impact upon both Soviet relations with the People's Republic of China, and Indian relations with the PRC, during the Khrushchev period. The Soviet Union declared its neutrality during the 1959 border dispute and the Sino-Indian war of October 1962, although the Chinese strongly objected. The Soviet Union gave India substantial economic and military assistance during the Khrushchev period, and by 1960 India had received more Soviet assistance than China had. This disparity became another point of contention in Sino-Soviet relations. In 1962 the Soviet Union agreed to transfer technology to co-produce the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 jet fighter in India, which the Soviet Union had earlier denied to China.
In 1965 the Soviet Union served successfully as peace broker between India and Pakistan after an Indian-Pakistani border war. The Soviet Chairman of the Council of Ministers, literally Premier of the Soviet Union, Alexei Kosygin, met with representatives of India and Pakistan and helped them negotiate an end to the military conflict over Kashmir.
In 1971 the former East Pakistan region initiated an effort to secede from its political union with West Pakistan. India supported the secession and, as a guarantee against possible Chinese entrance into the conflict on the side of West Pakistan, it signed with the Soviet Union, the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in August 1971. In December, India entered the conflict and ensured the victory of the secessionists and the establishment of the new state of Bangladesh.
Relations between the Soviet Union and India did not suffer much during the rightist Janata Party's coalition government in the late 1970s, although India did move to establish better economic and military relations with Western countries. To counter these efforts by India to diversify its relations, the Soviet Union proffered additional weaponry and economic assistance.
During the 1980s, despite the 1984 assassination by separatists of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the mainstay of cordial Indian-Soviet relations, India maintained a close relationship with the Soviet Union. Indicating the high priority of relations with the Soviet Union in Indian foreign policy, the new Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, visited the Soviet Union on his first state visit abroad in May 1985 and signed two long-term economic agreements with the Soviet Union. In turn, Gorbachev's first visit to a Third World state was his meeting with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi in late 1986. Gorbachev unsuccessfully urged Gandhi to help the Soviet Union set up an Asian collective security system. Gorbachev's advocacy of this proposal, which had also been made by Brezhnev, was an indication of continuing Soviet interest in using close relations with India as a means of containing China. With the improvement of Sino-Soviet relations in the late 1980s, containing China had less of a priority, but close relations with India remained important as an example of Gorbachev's new Third World policy.
Russia and India
Relations with India have always been and I am sure will be one of the most important foreign policy priorities of our country. Our mutual ties of friendship are filled with sympathy, and trust, and openness. And we must say frankly that they were never overshadowed by disagreements or conflict. This understanding - this is indeed the common heritage of our peoples. It is valued and cherished in our country, in Russia, and in India. And we are rightfully proud of so close, so close relations between our countries.
We are confident that India lives in the hearts of every Russian. In the same way, I can assure you that Russia also lives in our souls as a Homeland, as people who share our emotions, our feelings of mutual respect and constant friendship. Long live our friendship!
The first major political initiative, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, between India and Russia began with the Strategic Partnership signed between the two countries in 2000. President Vladimir Putin stated in an article written by him in the Hindu, "The Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia signed in October 2000 became a truly historic step". Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also agreed with his counterpart by stated in speech given during President Putin's 2012 visit to India, "President Putin is a valued friend of India and the original architect of the India-Russia strategic partnership". Both countries closely collaborate on matters of shared national interest these include at the UN, BRICS, G20 and SCO where India has observer status and has been asked by Russia to become a full member. Russia also strongly supports India receiving a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. In addition, Russia has vocal backed India joining the NSG and APEC. Moreover, it has also expressed interest in joining SAARC with observer status in which India is a founding member.
Russia currently is one of only two countries in the world (the other being Japan) that has a mechanism for annual ministerial-level defence reviews with India. The Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC), which is one of the largest and comprehensive governmental mechanisms that India has had with any country internationally. Almost every department from the Government of India attends it.
The Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) is the main body that conducts affairs at the governmental level between both countries. Some have described it as the steering committee of Indo-Russia relations. It is divided into two parts, the first covering Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Co-operation. This is normally co-chaired by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister and the Indian External Affairs Minister. The second part of the commission covers Military Technical Co-operation this is co-chaired by the two countries respective Defence Ministers. Both parts of IRIGC meet annually.
In addition, to the IRIGC there are other bodies that conduct economic relations between the two countries. These include, the Indo-Russian Forum on Trade and Investment, the India-Russia Business Council, the India-Russia Trade, Investment and Technology Promotion Council and the India-Russia Chamber of Commerce.
Defence relations between India and the Russian Federation have a historical perspective. The Soviet Union was an important supplier of defence equipment for several decades, and that relationship was inherited by Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In 1997, Russian and India signed a ten-year agreement for further military-technical cooperation. That agreement encompassed a wide range of activities, including the purchase of completed weaponry, joint development and production, and joint marketing of armaments and military technologies.
Today, the co-operation is not limited to a buyer-seller relationship but includes joint research and development, training, service to service contacts, including joint exercises. The last joint naval exercises took place in April 2007 in the Sea of Japan and joint airborne exercises were held in September 2007 in Russia.
An Inter-Governmental commission on military-technical co-operation is co-chaired by the defence ministers of the two countries. The seventh session of this Inter-Governmental Commission was held in October 2007 in Moscow. During the visit, an agreement on joint development and production of prospective multi-role fighters was signed between the two countries.
An India–Russia co-operation agreement was signed in December 1988. It has resulted in the sale of a multitude of defence equipment to India and also the emergence of the countries as development partners as opposed to purely a buyer-seller relationship. Two programmes that evidence this approach are the projects to form Indian-Russian joint ventures to develop and produce the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). The agreement is pending a 10-year extension.
India and Russia have several major joint military programmes including:
- BrahMos cruise missile programme
- 5th generation fighter jet programme
- Sukhoi Su-30MKI programme (230+ to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics)
- Ilyushin/HAL Tactical Transport Aircraft
Additionally, India has purchased/leased various military hardware from Russia:
- T-90S Bhishma with over 1000 to be built in India
- Akula-II nuclear submarine (2 to be leased with an option to buy when the lease expires)
- INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier programme
- Tu-22M3 bombers (4 ordered)
- US$900 million upgrade of MiG-29
- Mil Mi-17 (80 ordered)
- Ilyushin Il-76 Candid (6 ordered to fit Israeli Phalcon radar)
- The Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan is currently jointly operated by Indian Air Force and Tajikistan Air Force.
Both countries signed a defence deal worth $2.9 billion during President Putin's visit to India in December 2012. The 42 new Sukhois, to be produced under licence by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics, will add to the 230 Sukhois earlier contracted from Russia. Overall, the price tag for the 272 Sukhois - three of the over 170 inducted till now have crashed - stands at over $12 billion.The medium-lift Mi-17 V5 helicopters (59 for IAF and 12 for home ministry/BSF) will add to the 80 such choppers already being inducted under a $1.34 billion deal inked in 2008. The value of India's defence projects with Russia will further zoom north after the imminent inking of the final design contract for the joint development of a futuristic stealth fifth-generation fighter. This R&D contract is itself pegged at US$11 billion, to be shared equally by the two countries. So if India inducts over 200 of these 5th Gen fighters, as it hopes to do from 2022 onwards, the overall cost of this gigantic project for India will come to around US$35 billion since each of the jets will come for upwards of US$100 million at least.
Joint Military Exercises
INDRA is a joint, bi-annual military exercise conducted by India and Russia starting in 2003. The exercise is tasked with boosting coperation and interoperability between the Russian and Indian navies. The word INDRA is a portmanteau of the participants' respective countries.
The exercise involves live firing drills, as well as air defence and anti submarine operations. Additionally, counterpiracy, terrorism and drug smuggling operations are carried out.
Bilateral trade turnover is modest and stood at US$3 billion in 2006–07, of which Indian exports to Russia were valued at US$908 million. The major Indian exports to Russia are pharmaceuticals; tea, coffee and spices; apparel and clothing; edible preparations; and engineering goods. Main Indian imports from Russia are iron and steel; fertilisers; non-ferrous metals; paper products; coal, coke & briquettes; cereals; and rubber. Indo-Russian trade is expected to reach US$10 billion by 2010.
The India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Co-operation (IRIGC) is co-chaired by India's External Affairs Minister and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister. There are six Joint Working Groups [WG] under the IRIGC, namely, WG on Trade and Economy [trade and financial matters], WG on Energy [oil and gas, thermal and hydel power, non-conventional energy], WG on Metallurgy and Mining [steel, non-ferrous metal, coal], WG on Science & Technology; WG on Communication and Information Technology; and WG on Culture and Tourism. The 13th of the IRIGC was held in Moscow on 12 October 2007.
The two countries have set up India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investment at the level of the two Commerce Ministers to promote trade, investment and economic co-operation. The first Forum was held in New Delhi on 12–13 February 2007, which was attended by the Minister of Commerce and Industry and the Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade, apart from a large number of business representatives from both sides. The Minister of Commerce & Industry, Shri Kamal Nath participated in the 11th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum on 9–10 June 2007.
In February 2006, India and Russia also set up a Joint Study Group to examine ways to increase trade to US$10 billion by 2010 and to study feasibility of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). The group finalised its report after its fourth meeting in Moscow in July 2007. It has been agreed that a Joint Task Force would monitor the implementation of the recommendation made in the Joint Study Group Report, including considering CECA. The second BRIC summit was held in Brasília in April 2010. India and Russia agreed to jointly study a Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement with Belarus-Kazakhstan with the aim of boosting trade ties and achieving the ambitious trade target of $20 billion by 2015. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated in speech given during President Putin's 2012 visit to India, "Our bilateral trade has grown by over 30 per cent this year. There is still untapped potential in areas such as pharmaceuticals, fertilisers, mining, steel, information technology, civil aviation, telecommunications, infrastructure, food processing, innovation and services, which we will work to exploit".
Due to India simplifying recent visa rule changes for Russians travelling to India, the number of tourists increased by over 22%. In 2011 the Indian consulates in Moscow, Vladivostok and St. Petersburg issued 160,000 visas, an increase of over 50% compared to 2010.
Free trade agreement (FTA)
Both Indian and Russian governments have long viewed bilateral trade well below its optimal potential and the only long term way of rectifying this is by being through a Free trade agreement (FTA). Both governments have set-up a Joint working group (JWG) to negotiate the specifications of an agreement, a final agreement would be signed between India and Eurasian Customs Union of which Russia is a part of (also including Kazakhstan & Belarus). Thereby, the Indo-Russian FTA would result in a much bigger free trade agreement including India, Russia, Kazakhstan & Belarus. It is predicted once an FTA is in place bilateral trade will increase manifold, thereby significantly increasing the importance of economics in bilateral ties.
The table below shows the recent Indo-Russian bilateral trade performance:
|Indo-Russian trade (2009–12)|
|Year||Trade Volume (Billion $)||Annual Change|
Co-operation in the Energy sector
Energy sector is an important area in Indo-Russian bilateral relations. In 2001, ONGC-Videsh acquired 20% stake in the Sakhalin-I oil and gas project in the Russian Federation, and has invested about US $1.7 billion in the project. The Russian company Gazprom and Gas Authority of India. have collaborated in joint development of a block in the Bay of Bengal. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project with two units of 1000 MW each is a good example of Indo-Russian nuclear energy co-operation. Both sides have expressed interest in expanding co-operation in the energy sector.
In December 2008, Russia and India signed an agreement to build civilian nuclear reactors in India during a visit by the Russian president to New Delhi.
Historically, there has been a long history of cooperation between the Soviet Union and India in Space. Examples include Aryabhata it was India's first satellite, named after an Indian astronomer of the same name. It was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975 from Kapustin Yar using a Kosmos-3M launch vehicle. During President Vladimir Putin's visit to India in December 2004, two space-related bilateral agreements were signed viz. Inter-Governmental umbrella Agreement on co-operation in the outer space for peaceful purposes and the Inter Space Agency Agreement on co-operation in the Russian satellite navigation system GLONASS. Subsequently a number of follow-up agreements on GLONASS have been signed. In November 2007, the two countries have signed an agreement on joint lunar exploration. These space co-operation programmes are under implementation. Chandrayaan-2 is a joint lunar exploration mission proposed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA) and has a projected cost of 4.25 billion (US$90 million). The mission, proposed to be launched in 2017 by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) launch vehicle, includes a lunar orbiter and a rover made in India as well as one lander built by Russia.
Science and Technology
The ongoing collaboration in the field of science & technology, under the Integrated Long-Term Programme of Co-operation (ILTP) is the largest co-operation programme in this sphere for both India and Russia. ILTP is coordinated by the Department of Science and Technology from the Indian side and by the Russian Academy of Sciences and Russian Ministry of Industry & Science and Technology from the Russian side. Development of SARAS Duet aircraft, semiconductor products, super computers, poly-vaccines, laser science and technology, seismology, high-purity materials, software & IT and Ayurveda have been some of the priority areas of co-operation under the ILTP. Under this programme, eight joint Indo-Russian centres have been established to focus on joint research and development work. Two other Joint Centres on Non-ferrous Metals and Accelerators and Lasers are being set up in India. A Joint Technology Centre based in Moscow to bring cutting edge technologies to the market is also under processing. An ILTP Joint Council met in Moscow on 11–12 October 2007 to review co-operation and give it further direction. In August 2007, an MoU was signed between Department of Science and Technology and Russian Foundation of Basic Research, Moscow to pursue scientific co-operation.
North-South Transport Corridor
The "North-South" Transport Corridor Agreement [INSTC] has been ratified by all the three original signatory states, viz. India, Iran and Russia, and has come into force since 16 May 2002. This route is expected to reduce the cost of movement of goods between India and Russia and beyond. The 3rd Coordination Council Meeting of the INSTC was held in October 2005 in New Delhi and the 4th meeting was held in Aktau, Kazakhstan in October 2007 to discuss further streamlining the operation of the corridor.
In 2011, Iran and Russia agreed to make every effort to develop bilateral and multilateral cooperation in road, rail, air and marine transportation. In 2012, Rasia FZE was awarded the Armenia-Iran railway project and the southern section of the North-South Road Corridor, which will complete the key missing link in the International North–South Transport Corridor.
Cooperation in the Cultural Sphere
India–Russia relations in the field of culture are historical. The first Russian translation of the Bhagavad Gita was published in 1788 by decree on the orders of Catherine the Great. Russian pioneers who travelled to India and studied Indian culture include Gerasim Lebedev who studied ancient Indian languages in the 1780s and later Nicholas Roerich who studied Indian philosophy. Roerich was influenced by the philosophy of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore, and the Bhagavad Gita. The 130th birth anniversary of Nicholas Roerich and 100th birth anniversary of Svetoslav Roerich were celebrated in India in October 2004.
Leading Russian Indiologist such as Yuri Knorozov, Alexandr Kondratov, Nikita Gurov, Ivan Minayev and Eugene Chelyshev focused their research in understanding the Indus Script, Sanskrit and Indian literature.
Traditionally, there has been strong collaboration in the field of cinema between India and the USSR. Several generations of Russians grew up watching subtitled Indian films (mainly Bollywood) and vice versa for Indians watching Russian films. Popular Indian films in the USSR included Awara, Bobby, Barood, Mamta, recent contemporary films entirely shot & storyline in Russia include Lucky: No Time for Love. However, after the collapse of the USSR Bollywood's market share decreased in Russia. Recently, however, there has been increase due to viewers having access through cable & satellite channels. The Russian Deputy Minister of Culture, Elena Milovzorova, stated in an interview that an Indian-Russian joint working group (JWG) would discuss procedures to allow for both countries film industries to collaborate in film production together. The Krasnodar Region has been discussed among officials as a possible area for shooting future Bollywood films. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev know to be admirer of Bollywood films visited the film set of Yash Raj Studios and met Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Yash Chopra & Kareena Kapoor. He stated in an interview, "Our country is one of the places where Indian culture is most admired" in addition stated, "Russia and India are the only countries where satellite channels broadcast Indian movies 24/7."
Yoga in Russia has been growing and becoming increasingly popular since the 1980s, particularly in majors cities and urban centres, mainly due to its reputation for health benefits. However, it has its roots much earlier in Russia during the time of noted Russian actor & trainer Constantin Stanislavski who was significantly influenced by Yoga and Indian philosophy.
Russia's Rossotrudnichestvo Representative Office (RRO) established in 1965 has five Russian Centres of Science and Culture (RCSC) in India they include New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Trivandrum. The head of RRO & director of RCSC, Fyodor Rozovsky, expects cultural ties to grow between both countries. He and other officials also expects the number of Indian students studying in Russia to increase once both countries sign an agreement on joint recognition of higher education diplomas. There is a Hindi Department, in the University of Moscow along with five Chairs relating to Indology in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan and Vladivostok.
Days of Russian Culture were held in India in November 2003, in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. "Days of Indian Culture" in Russia were organised from September to October 2005 in Russia. Chief Minister of National Capital Territory of Delhi led a delegation for participating in the event "Days of Delhi in Moscow" from 28 May 1 June 2006. The "Year of Russia in India" was held in 2008. It was followed by the "Year of India in Russia" in 2009.
On international terrorism, India and Russia agree that there is no justification for terrorism, and this must be fought against, without compromise and wherever it exists. Russia has supported the Indian draft at the UN on Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism [CCIT]. The two sides signed a MoU on co-operation in combating terrorism in December 2002. A Joint Working Group on Combating International Terrorism meets from time to time and its fourth meeting was held in Delhi on 24 October 2006. Both Russia and India have faced the problem of terrorism, India has seen it in the context of its military presence in Kashmir and Russia has seen it in Chechnya and both the countries are supportive of each other on the issue of terrorism.
On 7 November 2009, India signed a new nuclear deal with Russia apart from the deals that were agreed upon by the two countries earlier. India and Russia are in discussion for construction of two more nuclear power units at Kudankulam. Two units of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant are already operational. During Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit to India for the 13th annual summit, a co-operative civilian nuclear energy road map was agreed to. Running until 2030, sixteen to eighteen new reactors will be constructed, with installed capacity of 1000 MW each. A 1000 MW reactor costs around $2.5 billion so the deal may touch $45 billion in worth.
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- Foreign relations of India
- Foreign relations of Russia
- Bollywood: Popularity and appeal
- Embassy of India School Moscow
- Indians in Russia
- Russians in India
- Hinduism in Russia
- Buddhism in Russia
- How India’s cryogenic programme was wrecked by USA
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