Modi in Moscow to revive Indo-Russian ties
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reach Moscow today to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and take part in the 16th annual Indo-Russia summit. Indo-Russian ties have been on a downslide over the last 3 years after a significant enhancement in Indo-US strategic cooperation in defence and nuclear energy technology. Analysts assess that this visit will be a crucial step in reinvigorating Indo-Russian ties.
A brief history of Indo-Russian ties
Jawaharlal Nehru first visited Russia in 1955, setting the tone for the long-standing Indo-Russian bilateral ties. Russia supported India during the 1962 war with China and the 1965, 1971 wars with Pakistan. Russia also refrained from imposing sanctions on India after India's nuclear tests in 1974. Russia is the second largest arms supplier and the largest supplier of nuclear fuel and technology to India.
Key points up for discussion
Prime Minister Modi will begin his visit with a one-on-one dinner with Russian President Putin. Discussions on the Syrian crisis and the growing violence in Afghanistan are likely to be held. Most importantly, the two leaders are likely to discuss growing Indo-US and Russia-Pak defence relations and clarify each others' stance on the matter. They will also discuss means of improving bilateral trade figures.
$30 billion in bilateral trade by 2025
Putin and Modi had set a target of $30 billion in bilateral trade by 2025 during the 2014 Indo-Russia summit. India's major exports to Russia include pharmaceuticals, manufactured items, iron and steel, apparel, tea, coffee and tobacco, while major imports include defence equipment, nuclear technology and fertilizers. India and Russia are likely to announce commencement of formal negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA).
$10 billion in defence deals to be inked
The inclusion of the private sector in defence manufacturing is a significant development. India will purchase five units of the S-400 Triumf air defence systems for $5-6 billion. A deal for 200 Kamov-226T and 48 Mi-17 V5 helicopters for the air force are on the anvil. It is also likely that a deal for four additional, improved Talwar class stealth frigates will be inked.
India largest market for Russian defence sector
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India is the largest market for Russian defence exports, receiving a massive $21 billion in arms exports from 2005 to 2014.
Declassification of Netaji files on the agenda
The Ministry of External Affairs said that Prime Minister Modi will initiate a dialogue with President Putin to access KGB files on Subhas Chandra Bose. Russian files contain vital information and have a decisive role to play in unraveling Netaji's whereabouts post 18 August 1945, when he was allegedly killed in a plane crash. The Centre began declassification of the files in October.