India–Russia relations

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India–Russia relations
Map indicating locations of India and Russia


Diplomatic mission
Embassy of India, MoscowEmbassy of Russia, New Delhi
Ambassador D. B. Venkatesh VarmaAmbassador Nikolay Rishatovich Kudashev
President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, during a state visit to India in 2014.

India–Russia relations (Russian: Российско-индийские отношения; Hindi: भारत-रूस सम्बन्ध) are the bilateral relations between India and Russia. During the Cold War, India and the Soviet Union (USSR) had a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship. After the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited its close relationship with India which resulted in both nations sharing a Special Relationship. Russia and India both term this relationship as a "special and privileged strategic partnership" . Owing to the bonhomie shared by the countries' respective leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin, the bilateral relationship has seen further growth and development. An informal meeting between them in 2018 at Sochi helped accelerate the partnership, displaying the role of interaction and cooperation between India and Russia.

Traditionally, the Indo-Russian strategic partnership has been built on five major components: politics, defence, civil nuclear energy, anti-terrorism co-operation and space.[1] These five major components were highlighted in a speech given by former Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai in Russia.[1] However, in recent years a sixth, economic component has grown in importance, with both countries setting a target of reaching US$30 billion in bilateral trade by 2025,[2][3] from about US$9.4 billion in the year 2017.[4] In order to meet this goal, both countries are looking to develop a free trade agreement.[5][6][7] Bilateral trade between both countries in 2012 grew by over 24%.[7]

The powerful IRIGC (India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission) is the main body that conducts affairs at the governmental level between both countries.[8] Both countries are members of many international bodies where they collaborate closely on matters of shared national interest. Important examples include the UN, BRICS, G20 and SCO.[9] Russia has stated publicly that it supports India receiving a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.[10] In addition, Russia has expressed interest in joining SAARC with observer status in which India is a founding member.[11][12]

India is the second largest market for the Russian defence industry. In 2017, approximately 68% of the Indian Military's hardware import came from Russia, making Russia the chief supplier of defence equipment.[13] India has an embassy in Moscow and two consulates-general (in Saint Petersburg and Vladivostok). Russia has an embassy in New Delhi and six consulate-generals(in Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram)[14]

According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 85% of Russians view India positively, with only 9% expressing a negative view.[15] Similarly, a 2017 opinion poll by the Moscow-based non-governmental think tank Levada-Center states that Russians identified India as one of their top five "friends", with the others being Belarus, China, Kazakhstan and Syria.[16]


Monument to Afanasy Nikitin in Feodosia, Crimea

Goods uncovered from archaeological site such as Pazyryk indicates that nomads inhabiting the area conducted trading activities with India during 4th-3rd century BCE.[17] In 1468, Russian traveller Afanasy Nikitin began his journey to India. Between 1468 and 1472, he travelled through Persia, India and the Ottoman Empire. The documentation of his experiences during this journey is compiled in the book The Journey Beyond Three Seas (Khozheniye za tri morya).[18] In 18th century the Russian cities Astrakhan, Moscow and St. Petersburg were frequently visited by Indian merchants. Russia was used as a transit trade between Western Europe and India.[19]

In 1801, Tsar Paul ordered plans made for the invasion of British India by 22,000 Cossacks, which never actually occurred due to poor handling of preparations. The intention was that Russia would form an alliance with France, and attack the British Empire and its weak point using a French corps of 35,000 men and a Russian corps of 25,000 infantry and 10,000 mounted Cossacks. Some Cossacks had approached Orenburg when the tsar was assassinated. His successor Alexander I immediately cancelled the plans.[20]

Soviet Union and India[edit]

India–Soviet Union relations
Map indicating locations of India and USSR


Soviet Union
Soviet Ambassador Kirill Novikov arriving in New Delhi 1947 to establish formal diplomatic relations with India
(left) 1984 Soviet stamp depicting Aryabhata, Bhaskra I and II satellites; (right) 1976 Soviet stamp extolling friendship between the USSR and India as both nations shared strong ties, although India was a prominent member of the Non-Aligned Movement
(left) Postage stamp of the Festival of Soviet-Indian Friendship with the image of the Red Fort in Delhi; (right) India-USSR troposcatter UHF link on a 1982 Indian stamp

Stalin had a negative view of Gandhi and the Congress Party, and of Nehru, as tools of the British and monopoly capitalism. Before his death in 1953 relations were cold.[21]

A cordial relationship began in 1955 and represented the most successful of the Soviet attempts to foster closer relations with Third World countries.[22] The relationship began with a visit by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the Soviet Union in June 1955, and First Secretary of the Communist Party Nikita 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 such as 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.[citation needed] 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.[23]

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 right-wing 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 Sikh 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. According to Rejaul Karim Laskar, a scholar of Indian foreign policy, during this visit, Rajiv Gandhi developed a personal rapport with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.[24] In turn, Gorbachev's first visit to a Third World state was his meeting with Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi in late 1986. General Secretary Gorbachev unsuccessfully urged Rajiv 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 Leonid 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[edit]

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.

— Dmitry Medvedev, about relations with India[25]

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!

— Pratibha Patil, about relations with Russia[25]

"...India-Russia relationship is one of deep friendship and mutual confidence that would not be affected by transient political trends. Russia has been a pillar of strength at difficult moments in India's history. India will always reciprocate this support. Russia is and will remain our most important defense partner and a key partner for our energy security, both on nuclear energy and hydrocarbons,"

— Pranab Mukherjee, about relations with Russia[26]

Political relations[edit]

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Russia's president Vladimir Putin in October 2000.
Both countries are members of the BRICS.

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".[27][28] 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".[29] Both countries closely collaborate on matters of shared national interest these include at the UN, BRICS, G20 and SCO. Russia also strongly supports India receiving a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.[10] In addition, Russia has vocally backed India joining the NSG[30] and APEC.[31] Moreover, it has also expressed interest in joining SAARC with observer status in which India is a founding member.[12][11]

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.[1] The Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) is one of the largest and most comprehensive governmental mechanisms that India has had with any country internationally. Almost every department from the Government of India attends it.[1]

Relations have deteriorated recently due to India's anti-China stance. Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, accused the West of trying to undermine Russia's close partnership with India. He added that India is being used as an object by the Western powers.[32]


Meeting of IRIGC in New Delhi, India December 2012

The Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) is the main body that conducts affairs at the governmental level between both countries.[8] Some have described it as the steering committee of Indo-Russia relations.[8] 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.[8]

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.[33]

An article penned by Vladimir Putin was published in The Times of India on 30 May 2017, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Russia, to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of relations between India and the Russia on 13 April 1947.[34][35]

Military relationship[edit]

A meeting of the Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on military and technical cooperation
Indian and Russian soldiers training during the Indra 2015 counter-terrorism exercise.
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI was jointly built by Russia and India
A welcoming ceremony for Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar in November 2015.

The Soviet Union was an important supplier of defence equipment for several decades, and this role has been inherited by the Russian federation. Russia 68%, USA 14% and Israel 7.2% are the major arms suppliers to India (2012-2016), and India and Russia have deepened their Make in India defence manufacturing cooperation by signing agreements for the construction of naval frigates, KA-226T twin-engine utility helicopters (joint venture (JV) to make 60 in Russia and 140 in India), Brahmos cruise missile (JV with 50.5% India and 49.5% Russia) (Dec 2017 update).[36] In December 1988, an India–Russia co-operation agreement was signed, which 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, including the joint ventures projects to develop and produce the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). The agreement is pending a 10-year extension.[37] In 1997, Russia and India signed a ten-year agreement for further military-technical cooperation encompassed a wide range of activities, including the purchase of completed weaponry, joint development and production, and joint marketing of armaments and military technologies.[38]

Now, 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.

In 2012, both countries signed a defence deal worth $2.9 billion during President Putin's visit to India for the 42 new Sukhois to be produced under licence by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics, which 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.[28]

In October 2018, India inked the historic agreement worth US$5.43 billion with Russia to procure five S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile defence system, the most powerful missile defence system in the world ignoring America's CAATSA act. The United States threatened India with sanctions over India's decision to buy the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.[39]

India and Russia have several major joint military programmes including:

Between 2013 and 2018, Russia accounted for 62% of arms sales to India, down from 79% between 2008 and 2012.[40]

Additionally, India has purchased/leased various military hardware from Russia:

Economic relations[edit]

Indian and Russian diplomats holding talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi
Prime Minister Modi and President Putin at the World Diamond Conference in New Delhi in 2014
Russian exports to India in 2012
Indian exports to Russia in 2012
Russian exports to India from 1995 to 2012
Indian exports to Russia from 1995 to 2012

Bilateral trade between both countries is concentrated in key value chain sectors. These sectors include highly diversified segments such as machinery, electronics, aerospace, automobile, commercial shipping, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fertilisers, apparels, precious stones, industrial metals, petroleum products, coal, high-end tea and coffee products.[41] Bilateral trade in 2002 stood at $1.5 billion[42] and increased by over 7 times to $11 billion in 2012[43] and with both governments setting a bilateral trade target of $30 billion by 2025.[3][44][41] Bilaterial bodies that conduct economic relations between the two countries include IRIGC, the Indo-Russian Forum on Trade and Investment, the India-Russia Business Council, the India-Russia Trade, Investment and Technology Promotion Council, the India-Russia CEOs' Council and the India-Russia Chamber of Commerce.[41][45]

Both Governments have jointly developed an economic strategy that involves using a number of economic components to increase future bilateral trade. These include development of an FTA between India & the EEU, a bilateral treaty on the promotion and protection of investments, a new economic planning mechanism built into IRIGC, simplication of customs procedures, new long-term agreements in the expansion of energy trade including nuclear, oil and gas.[46][47] Finally, long term supplier contracts in key sectors such as oil, gas and rough diamonds. Companies such as Rosneft, Gazprom, Essar & Alrosa will act as long term suppliers respectively.[47]

Russia has stated it will co-operate with India on its "Make in India" initiative by engagement in the development of "Smart Cites", the DMIC, the aerospace sector, the commercial nuclear sector and enhancement in manufacturing of Russian military products through co-development and co-production.[3][48][49][50] Russia agreed to participate in the vast, over $100 billion, DMIC infrastructure project which will eventually connect Delhi and Mumbai with railways, highways, ports, interconnecting smart cities and industrial parks.[3] Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in an interview that one of his government's priorities was of building a smart city in India, "a smart city on the basis of Russian technologies."[51] AFK Sistema will likely be the primary Russian company involved in the project due to its previous experience in smart city projects in Ufa, Kazan and Rostov.[52]

Both countries have also agreed to work together in the aerospace sector to co-development and co-produce aircraft, examples include the Sukhoi Superjet 100, MS-21, FGFA, MTA and Kamov Ka-226.[49] Some of the co-developed aircraft will be jointly commercially exported to third countries and foreign markets e.g. FGFA and Kamov Ka-226. President of Russia's UAC Mikhail Pogosyan stated in an interview, "We are planning to sell in India about 100 passenger aircraft by 2030, which will account for 10 percent of the Indian market of airliners in the segment" and further stated, "The unprecedented scope of Russian-Indian cooperation in military aviation has created a scientific and engineering basis for undertaking joint projects in civil aviation."[49]

India is currently the world's largest cutting & polishing centre for diamonds. Both countries have agreed to streamline their bilateral trade in diamonds through reductions in regulations and tariffs. Indian Prime Minister Modi stated in an interview, "I made three proposals to President Putin. First, I would like Alrosa to have direct long-term contracts with more Indian companies. I am pleased to know that they are moving in this direction. Second, I want Alrosa and others to trade directly on our diamond bourse. We have decided to create a Special Notified Zone where mining companies can trade diamonds on consignment basis and re-export unsold ones. Third, I asked to reform regulation so that Russia can send rough diamonds to India and reimport polished diamonds without extra duties".[53][54] Analysts predict through streamlined procedures and initiatives bilateral trade in this area will significantly increase.[50]

Russia has agreed to build more than 20 nuclear reactors over the next 20 year.[48][55] Russian president stated in an interview, "It contains plans to build over 20 nuclear power units in India, as well as cooperation in building Russia-designed nuclear power stations in third countries, in the joint extraction of natural uranium, production of nuclear fuel and waste elimination."[48] In 2012 Gazprom Group and India's GAIL agreed to LNG shipments to India of 2.5 million tons a year for the period of 20 years. LNG shipments for this contract are expected to begin anytime between 2017–21.[56] Indian oil companies have invested in the Russia's oil sector a notable example is ONGC-Videsh which has invested over $8 billion with major stakes in oil fields such Sakhalin-1.[57] In joint statement released by both governments they stated, "It is expected that Indian companies will strongly participate in projects related to new oil and gas fields in the territory of the Russian Federation. The sides will study the possibilities of building a hydrocarbon pipeline system, connecting the Russian Federation with India."[3]

Officials from both countries have discussed how to increase co-operation between their countries respective IT industries. Russian Minister of Communication Nikolai Nikiforov stated in an interview, "The development of IT products and software has traditionally been a strong point of India. We welcome possible joint projects in the field and closer contacts between Russian and Indian companies."[58]

Due to India simplifying recent visa rule changes for Russians travelling to India, the number of tourists increased by over 22%.[59] In 2011 the Indian consulates in Moscow, Vladivostok and St. Petersburg issued 160,000 visas, an increase of over 50% compared to 2010.[59]

Both the countries set the investment target of $30 billion by 2025. Since they met the target by 2018, India and Russia expect to enhance the figure to $50 billion. India also proposed to set up a special economic zone for Russian companies.[citation needed]

On 5 September 2019, India pledged a USD 1 billion line of credit (concessional loans) for the development of Russia's far east.[60]

Russian imports from India amounted to $3.1 billion or 1% of its overall imports, and 0.7% of India's overall exports in 2014. The 10 major commodities exported from India to Russia were:[61][62]

Indian commodities exports to Russia (2014)[61][62]
Product category Quantity ($ million)
Pharmaceuticals $819.1
Electronic equipment $382.3
Machines, engines, pumps $159.4
Iron and steel $149.1
Clothing (not knit or crochet) $135.7
Coffee, tea and spices $131.7
Tobacco $113.9
Vehicles $111.1
Knit or crochet clothing $97.9
Other food preparations $77.7

Russian exports to India amounted to $6.2 billion or 1.3% of its overall exports, and 0.9% of India's overall imports in 2014. The 10 major commodities exported from Russia to India were:[63][64]

Russian commodities exports to India (2014)[63][64]
Product category Quantity ($ million)
Gems, precious metals, coins $1100.0
Machines, engines, pumps $707.4
Electronic equipment $472.7
Fertilizers $366.8
Medical, technical equipment $302.7
Oil $223.8
Iron and steel $167.4
Paper $136.8
Inorganic chemicals $127.4
Salt, sulphur, stone, cement $105.1

Free trade agreement (FTA)[edit]

The formal process for the FTA between India and the EEU was begun at the 2014 Indo-Russian summit in New Delhi.
Signing of Indian-Russian documents at the 2015 Indo-Russian summit in Moscow.

Both governments have long viewed their bilateral trade well below its optimal potential, with the only long term way of rectifying this through having a Free trade agreement (FTA).[65][66] Both governments have set up a joint study group (JSG) to negotiate the specifications of an agreement, a final agreement would be signed between India and Eurasian Economic Union of which Russia is a part of (also including Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan & Belarus).[67] Thereby, the Indo-Russian FTA would result in a much bigger free trade agreement including India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan & Belarus.[65] It is predicted once an FTA is in place bilateral trade will increase manifold, thereby significantly increasing the importance of economics in bilateral ties.[65][68][69]

The table below shows the recent Indo-Russian bilateral trade performance:

Indo-Russian trade (2009–12)
Year Trade Volume (Billion $) Annual Change
2009 $7.46[7]
2010 $8.53[7] +14.34%
2011 $8.87[7] +3.98%
2012 $11.04[7] +24.50%

Co-operation in the Energy sector[edit]

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. Gazprom, the Russian company, 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.[70]

Space Co-operation[edit]

Soyuz T-11 mission patch and a pin depicting the flown crew.
India and Russia have both signed agreements for the cooperation and use of GLONASS
India's first Satellite Aryabhata was launched into space with the cooperation of the Soviet Union

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,[71] named after an Indian astronomer of the same name.[72] It was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975[71] from Kapustin Yar using a Kosmos-3M launch vehicle. The only Indian to visit space, Rakesh Sharma, was also launched by the Soviet Union under Interkosmos space program. 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 was a joint lunar exploration mission proposed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA) and had 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), included a lunar orbiter and a rover made in India as well as one lander built by Russia. But due to the repeated delays in the joint venture, the Indian side ultimately decided to develop its own lander and borne all costs of the mission by itself. Later on ISRO developed its own lander named Vikram and launched Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully on July 22, 2019 from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.[1]

Science and Technology[edit]

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 Academy of Sciences, Ministry of Science and Education, and Ministry of Industry and Trade 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[edit]

North South Transport Corridor route via India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.

The North–South Transport Corridor is the ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road.[73] The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali etc.[74] Dry runs of two routes were conducted in 2014, the first was Mumbai to Baku via Bandar Abbas and the second was Mumbai to Astrakhan via Bandar Abbas, Tehran and Bandar Anzali. The objective of the study was to identify and address key bottlenecks.[75][76] The results showed transport costs were reduced by "$2,500 per 15 tons of cargo".[76] Other routes under consideration include via Armenia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Cooperation in the cultural sphere[edit]

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev making his speech at the closing ceremony of The "Year of Russia in India" in 2008.

Indo–Russian relations in the field of culture are historical. One of the first Russian visitors to India was Afanasiy Nikitin a merchant from Tver in Russia.[77][78] His famous journey (1466-1472) was documented in the book A Journey Beyond the Three Seas. Nikitin spent three years in India (1469-1472) travelling to its many regions and documenting its people, culture, economy, technology, history, society and food. Nikitin's journey was portrayed by Soviet actor Oleg Strizhenov alongside Hindi screen legend Nargis Dutt in the 1950s film Journey Beyond Three Seas.[77][78]

Astrakhan in Russia has historically been a trading centre for Indian merchants since the 16th century.[79] In 1722 Peter the Great met with Anbu-Ram the leader of the Indians merchants in Astrakhan. In the meeting Peter the Great agreed to Anbu-Ram's request for full free trade including transit rights.[79]

The first Russian translation of the Bhagavad Gita was published in 1788 by decree on the orders of Catherine the Great.[80] Russian pioneers who travelled to India and studied Indian culture include Gerasim Lebedev who studied ancient Indian languages in the 1780s[81][82] and later Nicholas Roerich who studied Indian philosophy.[83] 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 Ivan Minayev, Sergey Oldenburg, Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, Yuri Knorozov, Alexandr Kondratov, Nikita Gurov and Eugene Chelyshev focused their research in understanding the Indus Script, Sanskrit and Indian literature.[81][84]

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.[85] Popular Indian films in the USSR included Awara, Bobby, Barood, Mamta[86][87] and Disco Dancer.[88] Recent contemporary films entirely shot in Russia include Lucky: No Time for Love. However, after the collapse of the USSR Bollywood's market share decreased in Russia.[89] Recently, however, there has been increase due to viewers having access through cable and satellite channels.[87][90] 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.[85] The Krasnodar Region has been discussed among officials as a possible area for shooting future Bollywood films.[91] Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, known to be an admirer of Bollywood films, visited the film set of Yash Raj Studios and met Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Yash Chopra and Kareena Kapoor during his state visit to India.[92][93] 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."[92]

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.[80][94][95] However, it has its roots much earlier in Russia during the time of noted Russian actor and trainer Constantin Stanislavski who was significantly influenced by Yoga and Indian philosophy.[80][96][97]

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.[98] The head of RRO and director of RCSC, Fyodor Rozovsky, expects cultural ties to grow between both countries.[98] 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.[99][100][101] 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.

Nuclear deals[edit]

Construction of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in 2009.

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.[102] 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 1,000 MW each. A 1,000 MW reactor costs around $2.5 billion so the deal may touch $45 billion in worth.[103]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Azizian, Rouben. Russia-India Relations: Stability Amidst Strategic Uncertainty (ASIA-PACIFIC CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES, 2004) online.
  • Bakshi, Jyotsna. "Russian Policy towards South Asia." Strategic Analysis 23.8 (1999): 1367–1398.
  • Budhwar, Prem K. "India-Russia relations: Past, Present and the future." India Quarterly 63.3 (2007): 51–83.
  • Chavda, V. K. India, Britain, Russia; a study in British opinion, 1838-1878 (1967) online
  • Choudhury, G.W. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Major Powers: Politics of a Divided Subcontinent (1975), relations with US, USSR and China.
  • Chufrin, Gennady, ed. Russia and Asia: The Emerging Security Agenda (Sweden: SIPRI, 1999),
  • Clark, Ian. "Soviet policy towards India and Pakistan, 1965-71." (PhD dissertation. Australian National U. 2013), with long bibliography p 290-303; online.
  • Clarkson, Stephen. “Non-Impact of Soviet Writing on Indian Thinking and Policy.” Economic and Political Weekly 8#15 1973, pp. 715–724. online; says Indian intellectuals ignored Russian propaganda
  • Dash, P. L. and Andrei Nazarkin, eds. Indo-Russian Diplomatic Relations: Sixty Years of Enduring Legacy (New Delhi: Academic Excellence Publishers, 2008), essays by experts.
  • Datar, Asha L. India's Economic Relations with the USSR and Eastern Europe 1953 to 1969 (Cambridge University Press, 1972).
  • Donaldson, Robert H. "The Soviet Union in South Asia: A Friend To Rely On?" Journal of International Affairs (1981) 34#2 pp 235–58.
  • Donaldson, Robert H. Soviet Policy Toward India: Ideology and Strategy (Harvard UP, 1974) online
  • Hilger, Andreas. "The Soviet Union and India: the Khrushchev era and its aftermath until 1966." (2009) online.
  • Hilali, A. Z. "Cold war politics of superpowers in South Asia." The Dialogue 1.2 (2006): 68-108. online
  • Hirsch, Michal Ben‑Josef, and Manjari Chatterjee Miller. "Otherness and resilience in bilateral relations: the cases of Israel‒Germany, India‒Russia, and India‒Israel." Journal Of International Relations and Development (2020) online.
  • Joshi, Nirmala, and Raj Kumar Sharma. "India–Russia relations in a changing Eurasian perspective." India Quarterly 73.1 (2017): 36-52.
  • Khan, Muhammad Nawaz. "Pakistan-Russia Relations Redux: From Estrangement to Pragmatism." IPRI Journal 19.1 (2019).
  • Mastny, Vojtech. "The Soviet Union's Partnership with India." Journal of Cold War Studies (2010) 12#3 pp 50–90.
  • Menon, Rajan. "India and Russia." in David M. Malone, et al. eds. The Oxford handbook of Indian foreign policy (2015) excerpt pp 509–523.
  • Nadkarni, Vidya. "India and Russia: The End of a Special Relationship?." Naval War College Review 48.4 (1995): 19-33. online
  • Naik, J. A. Russia's policy towards India: from Stalin to Yeltsin (1995).
  • Pant, Harsh V. "India-Russia Ties and India's Strategic Culture: Dominance of a Realist Worldview." India Review 12.1 (2013): 1-19.
  • Rekha, Chandra. India-Russia Post Cold War Relations: A New Epoch of Cooperation (London: Taylor & Francis, 2017).
  • Rothermund, Dietmar. "India and the Soviet Union." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 386.1 (1969): 78–88.
  • Samra, Chattar Singh. India and Anglo-Soviet Relations (1917-1947) (Asia Publishing House, 1959).
  • Singh, Anita Inder. "India's relations with Russia and Central Asia." International Affairs 71.1 (1995): 69–81.
  • Soherwordi, Hussain Shaheed, and Uzma Munshi. "China-Russia-Pakistan Strategic Triangle: Imperative Factors." South Asian Studies (1026-678X) 35.1 (2020) online.
  • Stein, Arthur. India and the Soviet Union: The Nehru Era (U of Chicago Press, 1969). online
  • Stein, Arthur. "India and the USSR: The post-Nehru period." Asian Survey (1967): 165–175. online
  • Tsan, Katherine Foshko. "Re-Energizing the Indian-Russian Relationship: Opportunities and Challenges for the 21st Century." Jindal Journal of International Affairs 2.1 (2012): 141-184. online
  • Unnikrishnan, Nandan. "The enduring relevance of India-Russia relations." Observer Research Foundation 25 (2017). online

Primary sources[edit]

  • Naik, J. A, ed. India and the communist countries : documents, 1976-1978 (1981) online
  • Prasad, Bimal, ed. Indo-Soviet Relations, 1947–1972: A Documentary Study (Bombay: Allied Publishers, 1973)

External links[edit]