India, Russia to expand ties in energy, military-tech

30 Dec 2023


India and Russia have agreed on a major expansion of bilateral relations, including cooperation in energy and defence production. This would include joint production of military equipment using latest technology besides expansion of Kudankulam nuclear power project.

The announcement follows Wednesday’s talks between India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his counterpart Sergey Lavrov for an in-depth review of bilateral cooperation.

Jaishankar, who is on a five-day visit to Russia, on Tuesday, held talks with Russian deputy prime minister Denis Manturov that largely focused on trade and investment. 

He also had a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The bilateral agreement is significant, especially as it comes at a time when the US and its European allies are putting pressure on other countries to isolate Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

India, however, has been ramping up purchases of Russian oil and fertilisers even as it continued to call an end to hostilities between the two Eurasian neighbours.

Lavrov described energy as a “strategic area” of overall cooperation that Russia intends to strengthen. “We agreed on the expansion of exports of Russian hydrocarbons to the Indian market as well as cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” he told a joint press conference.

Jaishankar said supplies of energy, coking coal and fertilisers are “very big components” of India’s trade with Russia and that the two sides are looking at long-term arrangements. 

Besides imports, India has “very substantial” investments in Russia’s oil and gas sector, “which we are seeking to expand,” he said. 

The two countries also signed a revised agreement on Kudankulam nuclear power project to expand the scope of cooperation. As per the revised agreement, two more reactors will be set up at Kudankulam to take the number of reactors to six.

The first two reactors are in operation, while two more are under construction. Work on the fifth and sixth reactors has reportedly started in 2021.

Besides, the two sides discussed cooperation in piloted space programmes, rocket engines, satellite navigation systems and military hardware.

Lavrov said Russia is “respectful” of India’s aspiration to diversify its “military and technical links” and is ready to support efforts to produce military equipment under the “Make in India” initiative.

India and Russia have a shared interest in Eurasia and surrounding waters to seek solutions that “would not provoke any confrontational approaches which are sometimes brought to the region from the outside”, he added.

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