21st India-Russia Summit

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    • The PM of India and the Russian President held the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit to discuss the entire gamut of relations, including regional and global issues.

    Highlights of the India-Russia Summit

    • 2+2 ministerial dialogue: India and Russia held the inaugural 2+2 ministerial dialogue.
      • India now has a 2+2 format dialogue mechanism on strategic and security issues with four of its key strategic partners, Russia being the latest. The three others are Australia, the US and Japan which are also ‘Quad’ partners.
    • Military-technical cooperation pact: The two countries also extended their military-technical cooperation pact by another 10 years.
    • Reciprocal Exchange of Logistical Support’ (RELOS): India and Russia have also reached the final phase of negotiation for a logistics support agreement but could not conclude it. 
      • The pact would have allowed militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.
    • On the issue of Afghanistan: they discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, especially the security situation and its implications in the region, the current political situation, issues related to terrorism, radicalisation and drug trafficking etc.
      • Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist groups including ISIS, Al Qaeda, LeT etc
    • S-400 deal: this deal does not only have symbolic meaning but is a very important practical, meaningful addition to Indian defence capability.
    • Indo-Pacific strategy: The two sides also discussed the Indo-Pacific strategy and India conveyed its security concerns in the region.
    • AUKUS: On the issue of AUKUS the Russian and Indian sides called these new formats non-inclusive and violative of international norms.
    • Terrorism: The joint statement mentioned India’s concerns of terror networks like Pak-based terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) finding space in Afghanistan.
    • Other deals: are expected to be signed following the talks which will be in the fields of space, culture, science and tech, defence, etc.

    AK-203 rifles

    • More lethal: They have a 7.62 x 39 mm calibre which is more lethal compared to INSAS.
    • Higher effective range: They have an effective range of 300 m and are lightweight, robust and easy-to-use modern assault rifles.

     Need for the New Rifle

    • Replacing the standard INSAS
    • Indian rifles have tendencies to jam
    • More reliance on imported rifles
    • Indian rifles are Less lethal

    India-Russia Relations

    • Political Relations: The Annual Summit meeting between the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between India and Russia. So far 20 Annual Summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia. 
    • Intergovernmental Commissions: There is regular high-level interaction between the two countries. Two Inter-Governmental Commissions – one on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), co-chaired by EAM and the Russian DPM, and another on Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC- MTC) co-chaired by Russian and Indian Defence Ministers, meet annually.
    • Trade and Economic Relations: Both sides revised targets of increasing bilateral investment to US $ 50 billion and bilateral trade to US $ 30 billion by 2025. 
    • Bilateral investment: Russian investment in India in 2017 has reached 18bn USD and India’s total investment in Russia so far is 13 bn USD. The investment target of 30 bn USD by 2025 has been achieved.
    • Nuclear Energy: Russia recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation. 
    • Space Cooperation: Both sides cooperate in the peaceful uses of outer space, including satellite launches, GLONASS navigation system, remote sensing and other societal applications of outer space.
    • Science & Technology: The Working Group on Science and Technology functioning under IRIGC-TEC, the Integrated Long Term Programme (ILTP) and the Basic Science Cooperation Programme are the three main institutional mechanisms for bilateral Science and Technology cooperation.
    • Cultural Cooperation: There is a strong tradition of Indian studies in Russia. JNCC maintains close cooperation with leading Russian institutions. There is strong interest among Russian people in Indian dance, music, yoga and Ayurveda.
    • Defence and Security Cooperation
      • India has longstanding and wide-ranging cooperation with Russia in the field of defence. 
      • BrahMos Missile System as well as the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks are examples of such flagship cooperation.
      • Both sides concluded agreements on the supply of S-400 air defence systems, construction of frigates under Project 1135.6 and shareholders agreement on the formation of a joint venture to manufacture Ka-226T helicopters in India.
      • The two countries also hold exchanges and training exercises between their armed forces annually termed INDRA.

    Significance

    • Big boost to self-reliance in defence: In an endeavour to provide a big boost to self-reliance in defence manufacturing in India, the government has approved the plan for the production of over five lakh AK-203 assault rifles at Korwa, Amethi in U.P.
    • Enhance the operational effectiveness: They will enhance the operational effectiveness of the Indian Army in counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism operations.
    • Make in India: This deal comes at a time when India is aggressively emphasising ‘Make in India’, especially in the defence manufacturing sector.
    • Business opportunities to various MSMEs: This project will likely provide business opportunities to various MSMEs and other defence industries for the supply of raw materials and components.
    • Geo-political equations: A lot of geopolitical equations have emerged. But India-Russia friendship has been a constant among all these variables. 

    Way Ahead

    • Revitalize the bilateral India-Russia agenda: In this regard, an action like the quiet diplomatic effort by Russia last year to get India and China to the table during their border clashes is critical for building confidence and much more effective than a public airing of differences. 
    • Revive the Economic Agenda: A forward-looking economic agenda should include cooperation in the hi-tech sector, biotechnology, nanotechnology, AI, space, start-up and innovation, pharmaceuticals, healthcare etc. to harness the strengths of the two countries.
    • Free & Frank Discussions: Neither India-China ties nor US-Russia ties are expected to improve in the short term. Thus, it might be prudent to intensify “free and frank” discussions on all issues to maintain neutrality on issues of core concern for each other while taking steps to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
    • Cooperation in the Far East and the Arctic: Furthering cooperation in the Russian Far East and the Arctic, both in bilateral and multilateral formats, would be beneficial for India.
    • Talks on Afghanistan Peace: It may be useful to discuss reviving the cooperation between India, Iran and Russia on Afghanistan.

    Source: TH