Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation

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Indo-Soviet Union relations
Map indicating locations of India and USSR


Soviet Union

The Indo–Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation was a treaty signed between India and the Soviet Union in august 1971 that specified mutual strategic cooperation. The treaty was a significant deviation from India's previous position of non-alignment in the Cold War[1] and in the prelude to the Bangladesh war, it was a key development in a situation of increasing Sino-American ties and American pressure.[2][3] The treaty played an important role to the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1972.[4]

Indo-Soviet relations[edit]

Early relations[edit]

India's relation to Soviet Union initially after the former's independence was ambivalent, guided by Nehru's decision to remain non-aligned, and his government's active part in the Commonwealth of Nations. However, in February 1954, the U.S. administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the decision to provide arms to Pakistan, followed a month later by Pakistan joining the SEATO and subsequently the CENTO. These agreements assured Pakistan the supply of sophisticated military hardware and economic aid.[4]

The developing situation alarmed India, which had uncomfortable relations with Pakistan. Since Pakistan also was near the Soviet Union, it also provided Moscow with the necessity as well as the opportunity to develop its relations with India. India's status as a leader of the Non-aligned Movement would also allow the USSR to bolster Soviet policy in the Third World. India and the USSR therefore pursued similar policies based on common security threat born out of the US interests in Pakistan. It was in this context that India and Soviet Union exchanged military Attaches.[4] Although Indo-Soviet cooperation had begun, the investment of soviet-military aid to India only begun in the context of deteriorating Sino-Soviet and Sino-Indian relations. Following the 1962 Sino-Indian war, the Sino-Pakistani axis was also an impetus for growing cooperation between India and the Soviet Union.[4] By the year 1965, Indo-Soviet relations entered a very important phase which lasted up to 1977. According to Rejaul Karim Laskar, a scholar of Indian foreign policy, the period from 1965 to 1977, is the "golden age" of Indo-Soviet relations.[5]


Following the general elections in Pakistan (March 1971), the Pakistani head of state, general Yahya Khan, was utterly dissatisfied with the large victory of the Awami League, the Bengali party which had its power base in East Pakistan (current day Bangladesh). To pacify East Pakistan, which voted overwhelmingly for the Awami League, he imposed martial law, a curfew, heavy censorship, and the persecution of the Awami League leadership. The Pakistani military, under the orders of general Tikka Khan, used heavy gunfire for almost a week to gain control of East Pakistan's largest city Dacca. After having secured control of the cities, they then turned to the Bengal countryside, where Tikka Khan targeted almost exclusively the Hindu population. This led to a mass exodus of (mostly Hindu) Bengali citizens, who all fled to India.

The Indian government, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, saw itself confronted to a major humanitarian catastrophe, as eight to ten million Bengali fled from East-Pakistan to overcrowded and underfunded refugee camps in India. Indira Gandhi decided in April that a war was needed to stop the exodus and make millions of Bengali refugees return to their homes. However, the Pakistani leadership was very well connected, as Yahya Khan had a close personal friendship with American president Richard Nixon, and harboured excellent diplomatic relations with Mao's China. Under these circumstances, Indira Gandhi was apprehensive about sending an army to East-Pakistan.

To her relief, the Soviet leadership was open to negotiations. The ensuing Treaty of Friendship and cooperation, signed in August 1971, was very loose but sent a strong signal to Washington and Beijing. The treaty was a strong additional incentive for Nixon and Mao to pursue their planned meeting, which took place in February 1972. Eventually, since Nixon needed Brezhnev to end the Vietnam War, the frictions between the two superpowers were streamlined which paved the way for the immensely important summit that was convened in Moscow in May 1972.[6]

The Treaty[edit]

The Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and co-operation, 9 August 1971

Desirous of expanding and consolidating the existing relations of sincere friendship between them,

Believing that the further development of friendship and cooperation meets the basic national interests of lasting peace in Asia and the world,

Determined to promote the consolidation of universal peace and security and to make steadfast efforts for the relaxation of international tensions and the final eliminations of the remnants of colonialism

Upholding their firm faith in the principles of peaceful coexistence and co-operation between States with different political and social Systems,

Convinced that in the world today international problems can only be solved by co-operation and not by conflict,

Reaffirming their determination to abide by the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter,

The Republic of India on the one side, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the other side,

Have decided to conclude the present treaty, for which purposes the following plenipotentiaries have been appointed:

On behalf of the Republic of India: Sardar Swaran Singh, Minister of External Affairs.

On behalf of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: Mr A. A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Who, having each presented their credentials, which are found to be in proper form and due order, have agreed as follows:


The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare that enduring peace and friendship shall prevail between the two countries and their peoples. Each party shall respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the other party and refrain From interfering in the other's internal affairs. The High Contracting Parties shall continue to develop and consolidate the relations of sincere friendship, good neighbourliness and comprehensive cooperation existing between them on the basis of the aforesaid principles as well as those of equality and mutual benefit.


Guided by the desire to contribute in every possible way to ensure enduring peace and security of their people, the High Contracting Parties declare their determination to continue their efforts to preserve and to strengthen peace in Asia and throughout the world, to halt the arms race and to achieve general and complete disarmament, including both nuclear and conventional, under effective international control.


Guided by their loyalty to the lofty ideal of equality of all peoples and nations, irrespective of race or creed, the High Contracting Parties condemn colonialism and racialism in all forms and manifestations, and reaffirm their determination to strive for their final and complete elimination.

The High Contracting Parties shall cooperate with other States to achieve these aims and to support the just aspirations of the peoples in their struggle against colonialism and racial domination.


The Republic of India respects the peace-loving policy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics aimed at strengthening friendship and co-operation with all nations.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics respects India's policy of non-alignment and reaffirms that this policy constitutes an important factor in the maintenance of universal peace and international security and in the lessening of tensions in the world.


Deeply interested in ensuring universal peace and security, attaching great importance to their mutual co-operation in the international field for achieving these aims, the High Contracting Parties will maintain regular contacts with each other on major international problems affecting the interests of both the States by means of meetings, and exchanges of views between their leading statesmen, visits by official delegations and special envoys of the two Governments, and through diplomatic channels.


Attaching great importance to economic, scientific and technological co-operation between them, the High Contracting Parties will continue to consolidate and expand mutually advantageous and comprehensive co-operation in these fields as well as expand trade, transport and communications between them on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual benefit and most-favoured nation treatment, subject to the existing agreements and the special arrangements with contiguous countries as specified in the Indo - Soviet trade agreement of 26 December 1970.


The High Contracting Parties shall promote further development of ties and contacts between them in the fields of science, art, literature, education, public health, press, radio, television, cinema, tourism and sports.


In accordance with the traditional friendship established between the two countries, each of the High Contracting Parties solemnly declares that it shall not enter into or participate in any military alliance directed against the other Party.

Each High Contracting Party undertakes to abstain from any aggression against the other Party and to prevent the use of its territory for the commission of any act which might inflict military damage on the other High Contracting Party.


Each High Contracting Party undertakes to abstain from providing any assistance to any third country that engages in armed conflict with the other Party. In the event of either being subjected to an attack or a threat thereof, the High Contracting Parties shall immediately enter into mutual consultations in order to remove such threat and to take appropriate effective measures to ensure peace and the security of their countries.


Each High Contracting Party solemnly declares that it shall not enter into any obligation, secret or public, with one or more States, which is incompatible with this Treaty. Each High Contracting Party further declares that no obligation be entered into, between itself and any other State or States, which might cause military damage to the other Party.


This Treaty is concluded for the duration of twenty years and will be automatically extended for each successive period of five years unless either High Contracting Party declares its desire to terminate it by giving notice to the other High Contracting Party twelve months prior to the expiration of the Treaty. The Treaty will be subject to ratification and will come into force on the date of the exchange of Instruments of Ratification which will take place in Moscow within one month of the signing of this Treaty.


Any difference of interpretation of any Article or Articles of this Treaty which may arise between the High Contracting Parties will be settled bilaterally by peaceful means in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding.

The said Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Treaty in Hindi, Russian and English, all text being equally authentic and have affixed thereto their seals.

Done in New Delhi on the Ninth day of August in the year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy One.

On behalf of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

(Sd.) A. A. Gromyko,

Minister of External Affairs,

On behalf of the Republic of India

(Sd.) Swaran Singh, Minister of External Affairs.

Post-cold war ties[edit]


  1. ^ Hanhimaki 2004, p. 165
  2. ^ Cashman & Robinson 2007, p. 236
  3. ^ Rao 1973, p. 793
  4. ^ a b c d Shah, SAA. "Russo-India Military-technical Cooperation". Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
  5. ^ Laskar, Rejaul Karim (2013). India's Foreign Policy: An Introduction. New Delhi: Paragon International Publishers. p. 173. ISBN 978-93-83154-06-7. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  6. ^ Gary Bass, The Blood Telegram (2013), Husain Haqqani, Magnificent Delusions (2013)