ASIA CENTRE BANGALORE
Mr. A.P. Venkateshwaran Former Foreign Secretary
Mr. Peter Sinai IFS (retd)
Lt. Gen (Retd.) Ravi Eipe
Support Asia Centre
1843 First Floor, 6th Cross, 20th Main, J.P Nagar, Bangalore Karnataka 560078, India;
Call: (+91 80) 26595150, 26593689
Seminar Summary Reports
"A Historical Perceptive" by Amb. Akbar Mirza Khaleeli "A Strategic perspective" byVice Admiral (Retd) P J Jacob "A Media perspective" by Shri Kesava Menon.
"A Security Assessment" by B. Raman
"The Current Scenario" by Shri K V Rajan, IFS (Retd)
"Implications for India" by Maj. Gen (Retd. Ashok K. Mehta
"Current Situation and its import" by Shri Gururaj Rao
"The Political Scenario" by Dr. Arvind Kumar
"Analysis of Political events" by Dr. Smruti Pattanaik
"Implications for India" by Maj. Gen (Retd.) Dipankar Banerjee
"Strategic Analysis and Opinions "by Maj. Gen (Retd.) Ashok K. Mehta
" Vision and Reality" by Ambassador Shri Rajiv Sikri (Retd)
" Historical Perceptive and Current Realities"
"Defence Cooperation Aspects" by
"A strategic review" by Dr. Brahma Chellaney
" A historic perspective"
"India's options in the global senario" by
"Indo-US core interests" by
Look East Policy
" India's Look-East Policy: Vision and Reality" by Ambassador Shri C.V Ranganathan (Retd)
" Impediments to India’s Look-East
Policy – China’s Reservations and Suggested
"Maritime Aspects of our Look-East Policy" by
by Shri Rajiv Sikri
One cannot fail to notice some recent
developments that seem to signal a cooling in bilateral relations.
When Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited Moscow a few weeks
ago for the Joint Commission meeting, he could not meet either Russian
Foreign Minister Lavrov or President Putin.
Similarly, when Raksha Mantri A.K. Anthony visited Moscow recently
he was not given a call on President Putin. PM Manmohan Singh’s visit in
November 2007 was beset by protocol controversies.
It was a surprisingly short, business-like visit lasting barely 28
hours, at the end of which no joint statement was issued, and the
agreement on four additional Russian nuclear reactors for Koodankulam
remained unsigned. Another
question mark hovers over the long delay in delivering the aircraft
carrier, ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ to our navy and the sharply increased
price that Russia is demanding, leading to a very unusual public statement
on this by the Indian naval chief.
Is there a crisis in India-Russia
relations? Do these signs
denote a loss of trust between the two sides?
India and Russia have always had a top-down relationship, in which
mutual trust is critical. Is
President Putin, who has been a friend of India, upset?
If so, why? Is it just
a misunderstanding arising out of mishandling?
Or is there a deliberate exaggeration by the pro-Western media to
queer the pitch of India-Russia ties?
One should not, however, lose sight of the
many positive trends in Indo-Russian relations.
President Putin was invited as Chief Guest at the Republic Day 2007
parade, a mark of honour we confer on heads of friendly states.
It was an important visit, well prepared by both sides.
The defence relations between the two countries are of
long-standing and have produced major results: the joint development of
Brahmos missile, the nuclear powered submarine from Russia, and the
partnership in the project for a ‘fifth generation’ fighter aircraft.
Russia proved its reliability during the Indo-Pak conflicts.
It has not given any advanced defence equipment to Pakistan that
would upset the military balance in South Asia.
ONGC has a valued stake worth $ 2.5 billion in the ambitious oil
exploration and production project, Sakhalin 1, with possibly a further
stake to be gained in Sakhalin 3 later.
In space cooperation, very recently an agreement was signed to get
Russian technology in tracking satellites.
The ‘Chandrayaan’ project, involving space probes to the moon,
is another space endeavour in which the two countries are set to
collaborate. In nuclear
energy, the Koodankulam project is noteworthy because Russia is the only
country building civilian nuclear reactors in India.
In trying to understand India-Russia
relations, it must be realised that both Russia and India have the West as
the reference point for their foreign policy.
Russians have a natural tendency to admire the West and a wish to
be considered “European.” Integration
with Europe is an enduring Russian theme and aspiration.
Gorbachev had spoken of a “common European home”. Historically
Europe has been also the principal enemy and threat to Russia.
Today, Russia seeks access to Europe’s lucrative markets and
advanced technology in many spheres. At
the same time, as a country with a vast Eurasian expanse, Russia has also
had to look towards Asia where most of Russia’s natural riches are
The Indian elite’s thinking and lifestyle
is also oriented towards the West. Culture,
languages and a democratic polity bring India and the West together.
India’s diaspora, business contacts, visitors and students going
westward have strengthened our links with the West.
This is not the case with Russia.
Because of different priorities, India and
Russia drifted apart in the 1990’s.
Under Putin, however, Russia has recovered not only its economic
strength but also its self-confidence.
A sense of triumphalism pervades Russia.
High oil prices have led to Russia’s economic recovery and
growth. Debts have been repaid
and Russia has accumulated huge foreign exchange reserves. An aggressive
Russian chauvinism is visible. Russia
today is in a combative mood. It
is driven, not by any ideology or idealism, but plain self-interest and
the desire to make money. There
is a reassertion of State power. Among
other things, Moscow has taken over the power of appointing Governors of
constituent units, and established firm control over Russia’s oil and
gas sector. Putin’s image
among the Russian people is soaring because of many factors, viz., the
prosperity and stability he has brought to Russia, the respect that he has
regained for Russia, his own capabilities and personal image, and his
ability to stand up to the US.
In foreign policy, Russia’s main
challenge is to counter American efforts to permanently weaken it.
The US has abrogated the ABM Treaty (and is unlikely to extend
START I when it expires in 2009), expanded NATO to Russia’s western
periphery and is actively instigating Georgia and Azerbaijan against
Russia. Russia sees the US plan to locate missile defences in Poland and
the Czech Republic as a direct military threat.
In Central Asia, the US has set up permanent military bases.
Russia is trying to counter this pressure from the West by keeping
the US and Europe divided and by keeping Europe dependent on Russian oil
Another foreign policy challenge for Russia
is the rise of China as an economic giant that threatens to become a
global competitor. China’s
demographic expansionism in Siberia and the Far East poses a threat to
Russian control over these regions in the long run.
China’s growing influence in Central Asia is also a cause for
concern. While Moscow is
working to re-integrate this region with Russia through organisations like
the CSTO and EURASEC, China wants to pull this region towards itself
through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Russia gives priority to military integration, China to economic
integration. But China is also
a partner in countering US hegemony, a valued customer for defence
equipment, and an important trade partner (over $40 billion).
In its ‘near abroad,’ Russia wants to
regain political and economic primacy and is concerned about the threat of
Islamic fundamentalism and incipient instability in some of the new
states. The Middle East and
the Persian Gulf are in Russia’s strategic neighbourhood.
Turkey, Iran and Iraq are countries that have an impact on the
northern Caucasus. Russia has
common interests with Saudi Arabia as an oil producer and has been toying
with the idea of forming a gas suppliers’ cartel with other major gas
producers like Iran and Qatar.
As it begins to flex its muscles once
again, Russia needs to modernise its own defence. The ‘siloviki’ now
have a powerful patron in Putin. The
Russian military has got pay increases.
A ‘grandiose’ programme of rearmament involving an investment
of $ 200 billion over the next eight years has been initiated.
There are plans to set up new air defence and command-control
systems. Russia has given
notice to end the agreement on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) and
will probably also quit the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement.
It has also adopted more aggressive postures by asserting its claim
on the Arctic area adjoining its northern shelf, sending sorties of
long-range bomber planes near Guam in the Pacific, probing the defences of
the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap, and patrolling the Atlantic coastline. Arms
sales to foreign customers are growing.
Energy is Russia’s main source of
economic recovery and a principal strategic asset.
Russia has used it to reassert dominance over its ‘near abroad’,
by controlling transit routes out of Central Asia and energy assets in the
region, buying it natural gas cheap and selling it at much higher prices
to Europe. In the Caspian, Russia has made a deal with Kazakhstan and
Azerbaijan to build an additional gas pipeline to Russia. It has also so
far managed to prevail on the Caspian rim countries not to go ahead with
any under-sea pipeline project.
Its policy is to keep West Europe dependent on Russian energy
supplies and thereby soften Europe’s position on issues that matter to
Russia. This would also keep
Europe and US divided, since the latter tends to adopt a much harder line
on Russia. As regards China,
Russia is keeping open its options by building the East Siberia Pacific
Ocean oil pipeline to the Pacific coast instead of Daqing in China.
Against the backdrop of these foreign
policy priorities, Russia looks upon India, not as a number one priority
state, but as an important ‘swing state’.
India would best suit Russian interests as a friendly,
independent-minded power. The
two countries do not have a serious clash of interests.
India is a large and important market for Russian defence
equipment, and defence sales have helped to spur the revival of Russia’s
own defence industry. In the
trilateral cooperation framework of India, China and Russia, there is a
shared interest in fostering multipolarity; further Russia favours the
prospect of a more cooperative relationship between India and China, which
would obviate the need for it to make difficult choices between them.
Russia’s grouses against India mainly
stem from the growing Indo-US strategic alignment, evident in many ways.
There is India’s reluctance to sign the agreement on Koodankulam
extension, and India’s tailoring of its policy on Iran.
With the increasing influence of the US in South Asia, Russian
support to India on political issues is perhaps less valued today.
Russia is particularly concerned that India has diversified its
defence purchases to reduce reliance on Russia.
India has also initiated joint military exercises with the US.
Secondly, the new generation of Russia’s rulers views India
differently. They may
understandably lack any nostalgia for Soviet times, but even their image
of contemporary India is outdated. Perhaps
they feel that India has no alternative to Russia.
One also sees more of the typical Russian bullying attitude.
There also seems to be a feeling that India is not giving Russia
the attention and importance it deserves.
India too has its grievances against
Russia. These largely relate
to the field of defence, where Russia has been unable to provide adequate
product support, spares and maintenance for several important acquisitions
by India. The Western (and
Israeli) arms lobbies have scored successes with the Indian defence
services in demonstrating the attractiveness of their products and
services. While some of our
fascination for Western defence equipment is to have the latest ‘toys’,
India’s desire to diversify its defence purchases is also a factor.
The basic handicap in the bilateral
relationship is that neither Russia nor India has a wide constituency
rooting for each other as partners. Few
businessmen, tourists and young visitors travel between the two countries.
Mutual perceptions on both sides are outdated.
Differences of culture and language hamper a better understanding
of each other. Perceptions
tend to be shaped by Western prejudices.
The image that most Indians have of Russia is at least a few years
out of date – Russia is no longer the crushed, dispirited nation that it
was in the first decade after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and most
Indians have yet to register the image of Russia as a strong, modern and
stable country. India’s
elite seems to perhaps under a Western spell, being wooed by new suitors
that appear more attractive than a known and trusted old partner.
For India, Russia still matters a great
deal. It has given India
valuable political and strategic support at critical times on Kashmir in
the UN. It has not created
trouble for India in our neighbourhood.
Both nations have strategic convergences relating to Iran,
Afghanistan and Central Asia. Russia
has been a valuable partner and given India unique access to technology in
the fields of defence, space technology and civilian nuclear industry.
It has not given arms to Pakistan because of India’s
sensitivities. Thus we should, in our own interests, eschew steps that
would weaken the bonds of a trusted, time-tested relationship.
Historical Perceptive and Current Realities
by Shri A.
Two events since 1990 have radically
altered international perspectives: the break-up of the Soviet Union at
the end of 1991 and the Al Qaeda attack on the US, now known as 9/11, in
2001. The consequences
of the Soviet Union’s collapse were hard on its people and on India.
The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union over-stretched the
economic sinews of the latter by the diversion of resources to the nuclear
arms race and the military, to the neglect of basic goods and food.
The Soviet economy was stagnant.
Its external security was undermined by cracks in the Warsaw Pact
or the Soviet bloc (Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968).
When Mikhail Gorbachev became Secretary
General of the Communist Party in 1985, the Soviet Union was already an
exhausted superpower, badly in need of radical reform in its economy,
polity and military. Its army
was losing troops and morale in Afghanistan.
He tried to steer the ailing nation away from ideological Statism
to something allowing a modicum of individual enterprise and civil rights.
His policy of glasnost or greater transparency in governance and
perestroika or restructuring of the over-centralised planned economy
inevitably met with opposition from entrenched Party apparatchiks and
power-wielders of the CPSU, the military and the KGB.
The reforms petered out half way into an unmanageable mix of
liberal and authoritarian elements
Boris Yeltsin went much further in
unshackling the country from the dead hand of Communist orthodoxy, which
had brought it to a disastrous pass. Gorbachev
wanted to give the Soviet republics greater autonomy and delegated power
in a loose federation, releasing them from the Kremlin’s absolute
control. This was anathema to
the hard-liners. In August
1991 they conspired in Moscow to depose Gorbachev in a coup. It
was Yeltsin who thwarted it with personal daring.
He exhorted the public to defeat the putsch.
His call won the day, since the soldiers would not fire on their
repudiating of the Brezhnev doctrine, Gorbachev freed the East European
satellite countries to carve out their future, with West Europe and the US
as their new mentors. The fall
of the Berlin Wall on September 11, 1989 signalled a historic change, with
swarms of East Germans surging unhindered across the Wall into the
hitherto forbidden West. (I
was lucky to witness these exhilarating events).
Germany was reunited after 45 years of ideological division.
Barely a year later, the Soviet Union dramatically fragmented.
The Baltic trio, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, apart from Ukraine,
Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and other Soviet republics, opted for
independence. Russia remained
the largest remnant of the Soviet Union, intact with much of its abundant
natural resources, especially oil, gas and minerals, as well as its
nuclear and missile infrastructure. Russia
was the successor state by common consent.
By the end of 1991, the Soviet Union had gone into history along
with the CPSU. Gorbachev thus
presided over the liquidation of the Soviet empire.
Gorbachev’s reforms proved inadequate to
stem the accumulated rot in the system.
The country was bankrupt, even meat and milk and other essentials
had to be rationed. It was in
foreign policy that Gorbachev’s “New Thinking” earned greater
international respect. More
than anyone else, he was responsible for ending the Cold War confrontation
with the US. To cut his
losses, he extricated the over-strained Soviet Union from the deadly
quagmire of Afghanistan He
almost got an agreement with President Reagan to eliminate ICBMs and
struck a deal to remove all the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) in
Europe. This won him the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1990. But the
US would not give up its ‘Star Wars’ fantasy of a missile shield (the
Strategic Defence Initiative) to interdict Soviet missiles if war broke
out. This persisting American mistrust of Gorbachev’s initiative to bury
the Cold War and give up all nuclear weapons robbed the world of a chance
to establish a truly peaceful new order.
The break-up of the Soviet Union was a
turning point in contemporary history, apparently a historic shift from a
world of two contending superpowers to a world dominated by the sole
superpower. But the semblance
of dawning Pax Americana belied the reality.
What happened was not that the Cold War ended, but that nations
were caught in a period of unsure and uneasy re-adjustment in their
foreign policy. The former Soviet satellites and countries dependent on
Soviet support had to scramble for new sources of aid and security.
India too was in a similar plight.
Meanwhile, the Americans went into
triumphal euphoria, convinced that the US had defeated the Soviet Union
hands down and won the Cold War. But
Russia was not like Germany and Japan at the end of the Second World War.
As Dmitri Simes explains in his article, “Losing Russia” (Foreign
Affairs quarterly, November-December 2007), “Washington’s crucial
error lay in the propensity to treat Russia as a defeated enemy…Despite
numerous opportunities for strategic cooperation over the past 16 years,
Washington's diplomatic behavior has left the unmistakable impression that
making Russia a strategic partner has never been a major priority…
Russia was transformed, not defeated.’
Russia is a nation reborn in
disintegration, struggling to come to terms with insecurity and
instability, having lost strategic chunks of Soviet territory on the
Baltic Sea, in East Europe and Central Asia with its assets of petroleum.
The liberal project of Yeltsin on the Western model of
privatisation was botched by the depredations of business tycoons in
league with Western corporate interests.
“Raging inflation, unpaid salaries and oligarchic larceny”, as
the Economist put it, drove the Russians to despair.
Corruption, already pervasive, became entrenched.
Yeltsin chose well to name Putin as his successor on the eve of
is by far the largest country in the world, with 17 million sq. km,
outstripping Canada with almost 10 million sq. km.
(India’s is a mere 3.28 million). Russia is about 1.8 times
bigger than the US, and is about 5.2 times the size of India.
Russia covers 11 time zones across a distance of some 7000 km, from
St. Petersburg to the Bering Sea, close to Alaska. In
population, Russia is well behind China, India, Pakistan and even
Bangladesh, with only 142.4 million and declining numbers, its death rate
exceeding the birth rate. This
is indeed a serious long-term disadvantage, since the median age is around
36, contrasting with India’s ‘demographic advantage’.
In GDP terms, Russia with $ 581 billion ranks below fourteen other
countries, including the US, with $ 11.7 trillion, China with nearly $ 2
trillion and India with nearly $ 700 billion.
It was Putin who restored order in the
country and ensured rising prosperity for the Russians.
He gave Russia the one thing it craved, namely, stability, along
with patriotic pride and dignity. This
was made possible, even under an imperfect democratic constitution, only
by reversing the blunder of depending upon unbridled private enterprise,
which robbed the state of its most important sources of revenue, oil and
gas. The re-assertion of state
control in strategic resources alienated Western capitalist sympathy.
But Russia wiped out a good part of its debt and leapt into
prominence as a major power, if not as a superpower.
From the energy revenues Putin has started a substantial ‘Stabilisation
Fund’ to safeguard the economy against sudden setbacks.
has transformed Russia from the abjectly destitute successor of a failed
superpower to a country with sufficient economic strength and
self-confidence to play a respectable world role.
Russia is basking in a new high.
The windfall has come from the rocketing price of oil and gas since
1998. But the downside is the
unequal distribution of the new wealth.
Evidence confirms that Putin’s eight years have skewed the
distribution in favour of a privileged circle.
There is a reversion to single party dominance based on nationalism
and authoritarian rule, mixed with resort to the dirty tricks of the old
KGB, although Putin often pays lip service to democratic rights, or ‘sovereign
democracy’ for Russia, in his enigmatic phrase.
Putin’s modernisation of the armed forces and flaunting of
weapons like a super bomb and long range bombers will siphons off $ 150
billion a year.
We live in a time of melting unipolarity,
stumbling towards a multipolar world of regional powers and lesser powers.
China is ascendant, catching up with the US as a front-ranking
economic power-house with an increasing diplomatic and political influence
reaching beyond East Asia to other continents, notably Africa.
The middle powers, including India, are groping for associative
security and cooperation in their common interests.
Some gravitate towards the US, some turn defiantly away from it,
like Venezuela and Iran. Some
make temporary compromises, like North Korea and Libya.
But the struggle for security remains fundamental, even as the US
under the two terms of the Bush administration, has been asserting its
global reach and hegemony to the grave detriment of its economic
The Cold War never ended.
History is a flux, with elements of continuity and change emerging
in every era. True, we study
the long duration of history in segmented eras.
But the persistence of traditions and cultural predispositions
should not be overlooked. After
the Soviet collapse, no new era dawned for the world to garner the
advertised ‘peace dividend’. The
Cold War went dormant for a time, it lay like the permafrost under Russia’s
treeless tundra, but it surfaced again when Putin set a different course
from Yeltsin's, away from corporate-oligarchic model to a reprise
reminiscent of the Soviet-Kremlin model.
The current tension between the West and Russia has renewed the
mutual recriminations of the Cold War, and both sides are responsible for
it, though it was the US neo-cons that instigated it.
The American long-term objective is to bring about the break-up of
Russia, like the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Prof. Samuel Huntington had said at a gathering in Harvard in 1981
that the US should not rest until the Soviet Union had been reduced to the
Duchy of Moscovy.
The US took a patronising attitude to
Russia under Yeltsin and tried to convert it into a capitalistic
playground. The US proffered
no substantial aid or credits to the nascent Russian republic, as it did
to post-war Germany. Instead,
the US handed grants to opponents of the regime and instigated dissidents.
Though it promised not to capitalise on the disbandment of the
Warsaw Pact, the US prevailed on NATO to do exactly that, when Russia was
feeling the geopolitical angst of ‘encirclement’.
Russia was granted an ineffective consultative role in NATO, while
former Soviet republics were made full members. Poland was a key
anti-Russian convert to Western democracy.
While Russia’s help was gladly accepted in the American campaign
against the Al Qaeda, there was no sympathy for its problem of defeating
Chechnyan separatism. The West
seized its advantage by actively supporting the ‘colour revolutions’
in Ukraine and Georgia on the pretext of solidarity with democrats in
order to undermine Russian regeneration.
Though Russia was notably helpful during the US drive to oust the
Taliban regime from Afghanistan, the Americans sought to establish
permanent bases in Central Asia, obviously with the aim of weakening
Russia’s influence. The US
strove to curtail and thwart Russia’s advantage as a supplier of oil and
gas to Europe. This dependence
was a strategic weakness for the EU and former Soviet republics in East
Europe. The West succeeded in
promoting the costly but strategic oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey’s
Mediterranean coast and the Black Sea, called the BTC.
A gas pipeline on the same route has been added separately.
The geopolitical maneoeuvres to control the flow of Central Asian
oil and gas are reminiscent of the Cold War rivalry at its worst.
In the Balkans, Serbia has again become a
locus of European tension, as it was before the First World War.
It is future of Kosovo that is in dispute.
The West is dead set on recognizing this Serbian enclave of
Albanian Muslims as an independent country.
The Serbians and Russians adamantly oppose this.
If the US and the EU go ahead with the recognition, worse tension
will follow, and the West knows it.
In 2007, the tensions came to the fore,
negating the promise of Russian partnership with the West for world peace.
Vestiges of common concerns remain, like Russia’s diplomatic
engagement in the Middle East Quartet and the Six Power group which
recently bribed North Korea to give up the nuclear weapon option.
Russia is still a strong supporter of the NPT and a member of the
Nuclear Supplier’s Group. The
US provoked Russia to counter-punch by insisting on setting up a
sophisticated radar monitoring system in Poland, along with an
anti-missile station in the Czech Republic, purportedly to deter future
inter-continental missiles from Iran directed at the US.
Putin reacted to this implausible contingency by announcing his
intention to cancel the outdated Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and
the agreement on Intermediate Nuclear Forces.
This will revive the insecurity of the Cold War, especially for the
EU and the East European countries in the “near abroad” of Russia.
Putin’s later speeches have deeply
troubled the West. In his
annual address to the parliament on April 25, 2005, he had startled the
West, saying, “Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the
Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century”.
In Munich at a conference on October 2, 2007, Putin combatively
railed at the US, declaring: “One state and,
of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its
national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political,
cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations.”
Subsequently, Putin went to Teheran and
cautioned Caspian countries against outside powers poaching on their
energy wealth. His meeting
with President Ahmedinejad of Iran was disliked in Washington.
The West and its media have of late been heaping anti-Putin
diatribes, particularly targeting his grip on power even as his two term
presidency comes to an end. His
boost for the United Russia party and his
dictatorial management of an overwhelming victory for it in the
Duma election have been trashed as fraudulent, as expected, although it is
conceded that Putin is highly esteemed as the leader by a large majority
of his people. The West is dreading the prospect of Putin continuing to
wield power from spring 2006 as prime minister or as a Kremlin eminence.
They perhaps hope for instability in Russia when political factions
in the Kremlin challenge Putin’s continued influence.
Russia’s political proximity with China
is also worrying the West. Gorbachev
had begun a détente policy with China.
The new Russia resolved the boundary dispute with China and
promoted significant arms transfers to China, agreeing to the licensed
production of some strategic items in China.
The two countries concluded a Treaty of Friendship in 2001 and
reshaped the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) into a potential
collective security hedge against NATO in Eurasia.
India has been reluctant to join the SCO lest it should sour its
evolving entente and partnership with the US.
For the same reason, India has been lukewarm to the Trilateral
Consultations of Russia, China and India at the Foreign Minister level
Indo-Russian relations may be considered
against this global background of latent contention and flare-ups.
If we picture a quadrangle with Russia, China, India and the US at
the four points, each point can be connected to the other three to
represent their bilateral relations, but the connecting lines will be show
differing intensity. The
India-Russia line denotes friendship all right, and is potentially rich in
content, but it is a shadow of the Indo-Soviet relationship of the 1970’s.
The Soviet Union was a strategic,
diplomatic and military ally of India.
It started from 1955, when Khrushchev, on visiting Kashmir, quipped
that we had only to call out from the Himalaya for them to come rushing to
help us. In the UN Security
Council, this help was invaluable when the US and the UK were backing
Pakistan on the future of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indo-Soviet Treaty of 1971 acted as a deterrent to both the US
and China during the Bangladesh crisis and our war with Pakistan.
By 1990 the Indo-Soviet partnership was turning stale, since the
Soviet Union was in a terminal stage. India was leaning on a broken reed,
but the government was reluctant to acknowledge it.
After the Soviet implosion in 1991, India
was anxious for support from the EU and the US.
India committed itself to the US in the expectation that the latter
would respond to our needs more freely, now that our strong Soviet link
was gone. India was more
willing to receive than to give. The
Americans wanted us to play the junior partner.
Under the present UPA government, India has moved away from
dependence on Russian partnership, opting instead for closer bonds with
the US, in the hope of somehow retaining or salvaging the mutually
beneficial bonds with Russia.
In 1993 India and Russia concluded a Treaty
of Friendship and Cooperation to replace the 1971 Treaty.
But it did not have the consultative article covering cases of
national danger from outside, the article which distinguished the earlier
Treaty. In 2000, Putin visited
India. The two sides issued a
Declaration of Strategic Partnership, which has not been put to the test
of an external threat to India. Both
sides have affirmed that their relationship has “stood the test of time”. Anodyne
diplomatic jargon is no proof of a working relationship in which both
sides are satisfied with the results. Joint
working groups have been talking away, occasionally to some purpose.
Our defence cooperation has been of concrete benefit, (half of our
defence equipment derives from the Soviet era), though it is uneven in
quality, subject to delays and payable in foreign currency, without the
old privilege of ‘friendship prices’. India’s Chief of Naval Staff
recently deplored the delay in the delivery of the aircraft carrier, ‘Admiral
Gorshkov’ and the cost escalation.
India has considerably diversified its defence purchases, though it
still values Russian military ware highly, the more so since alternative
supplies are not always easily available on similar terms. Summit meetings
have occurred regularly. Sheaves
of bilateral agreements on manifold aspects of cooperation have been
exchanged, with some significant results. Russia is building a nuclear
facility in the southern tip of India, at Koodankulam, twin reactors of
1000 MWe capacity; but has stalled the addition of two more reactors to
the project. In the energy
sector, where Russia has the upper hand, India’s ONGC Videsh acquired a
stake in the Sakhalin 1 project. Bilateral
trade has languished, due to consumer preferences in both countries in
favour of more advanced countries.
Altogether, neither Russia nor India has
given high priority to each other in their global relationships. The
Russians have no special concessions to offer India, unlike the
predecessor Soviet Union. The
most recent contact at the top level was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
visiting Moscow in November 2007, when an understanding was reached
between the two countries on the vexed issue of Rupee Debt Funds
accumulated over the years for India’s defence purchases.
The funds, amounting to Rs. 8000 crores, are to be used for Russian
investment in India. Another
agreement is for the joint production of Multi-Role Transport Aircraft.
A notable success is the joint work on the Brahmos missile.
There is also a framework agreement on the exploration and use of
outer space. Is this mere rehashing of documents for the summit or will we
really soar into space together? There
is talk of collaborating on a fighter aircraft too, but it is hard to say
when the plane will fly.
The fizz that was evident when Putin came
to India in January 2007 has gone flatter, with both sides no longer
intimate partners. When the US
and Russia are growling at each other, India cannot cosy up to both of
them at once, any more than a stunt man can ride two motorbikes which are
going different ways. India
has to re-assess the emerging trends in international affairs to determine
whether it is worth giving up the prospect of a close relationship with
the new Russia for the sake of closer bonding with the US.
So long as the US remains adamant on perpetuating its hegemonic
unipolarity against the will of other regional and major powers, India
will be consigned to the lesser role of a less-than-crucial American ally,
obliged to mute its voice in world councils and trim its policies in order
to avoid clashing with US interests. This
has already happened at the IAEA on sanctions against Iran.
India should clearly favour a multipolar world order.
This requires India to cultivate regional powers to balance the
dominance of the sole superpower. China
and Russia are countries which India should not alienate by being
over-solicitous to align itself with the US, when the American vision of a
desirable world order runs contrary to our national interests.
India is better suited to a role where it can use its growing
influence to moderate tendencies towards discord among the major powers of
Air Marshal (Retd.) Narayan Menon
Indo-Russian strategic and military
relations have been buffeted by the turbulence of international upheavals
and domestic events since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of
the Cold War. Their dynamics have been dramatically altered. Both
countries were obliged to review their ‘special relationship’ and
their geopolitical calculations with the emergence of the USA as the sole
India, which had a leading role in the
Nonaligned Movement, had to find a new identity and place in international
affairs after the demise of the Soviet Union.
It lacked the economic clout and political weight to be a major
power. Insurgency and
secessionist trends in India and the neighbourhood shifted the focus to
internal stability. India
reached out to advanced countries for economic rejuvenation.
India’s condition contrasted with that of the ‘Asian tigers’.
India had to assess the world through its own interests.
Meanwhile there were convulsions within
Russia. The costs of the
Soviet Union were evident in the disarray and starvation in the streets.
A foreign policy based on ideology and a special relationship with
India was abandoned. The
Russian leaders, dominated by fascination for the West, became more
neutral towards India. Two
schools of thought emerged: one
comprising academics and defence industry professionals, who wanted to
continue the special ties with India, partly in order to stem the Islamist
wave sweeping across Central Asia, and further because Indian defence
imports would be crucial to Russia’s transition to a free market
economy; the other, comprising
officials in the foreign ministry considered that Pakistan had a vital
role in realizing Russia’s immediate diplomatic and security concerns
and that Islamic fundamentalism could be tackled best by working closely
with Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. The
latter prevailed. It was
evident from Russian support for the Pakistani resolution in the UN for a
Nuclear Free Zone in South Asia. Russia
severed all support to Najibullah in Afghanistan, much to India’s
relations were also strained by Russia reneging on the accord to supply
the cryogenic engine and technology transfer under US pressure.
Another issue of contention between the two countries was India’s
huge debt amounting to over % 16 billion from the purchase of Soviet arms.
The rupee0ruble exchange rate and the rescheduling of repayment
instalments became another irritant. The
issue was eventually settled much later.
The demise of the Soviet Union resulted in
many defence plants closing down in Russia and CIS countries, with severe
adverse effects for the Indian armed forces.
Even the limited product support of the Soviet era suffered drastic
curtailment. Spare parts,
tyres and split-pins were in short supply.
Indian forces had to cut down sharply on their operational training
so as to save their stocks for unforeseen contingencies.
The capability of our forces, whose hardware was 80 % of Soviet
origin, was badly compromised for too long.
India sent several delegations to Russia and the CIS, funded with
dollars, to seek spares and equipment which were urgently needed for
tanks, ships and planes. These
stocks had dwindled to around 30 %, though the minimum prescribed was 50
%. Chaos prevailed in
Russia. It resorted to
arbitrary hiking of cost for spares by 500-1000 %.
In this uncertainty, India did not procure
any new weapon system from Russia, since the process itself was liable to
be prolonged to around four years. When
India tried to produce the needed equipment domestically, Russia objected
to it as infringement of the IPR convention.
There were, however, some positives.
Russia endorsed the UN Security Council’s condemnation of the
Indian nuclear tests in 1998, but refrained from imposing sanctions
against India. Russia also
moved to implement the deal to build two light water reactors of 1000
megawatts capacity at Koodankulam despite US pressure to scuttle the deal.
Further, during the Kargil operations in 1999, Russia flew in the
spares and equipment which India urgently required.
Under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, the
splintered military-industrial complex of Russia has been revamped.
Russia has resumed major arms exports.
Putin has reinvigorated bilateral relations.
During his visit to India in October 2000, major arms deals worth $
3 billion were finalised. The
Intergovernmental Commission was upgraded to Minister level.
Since 2002, the two countries have contracted for the transfer of
SU 30 MKI multi-role fighters, IL-78 aircraft, , Mi 171V helicopters, Kilo
class submarines, frigates, Ka
31 AEW helicopters, the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, MiG 29K carrier
compatible fighters, T 90 tanks, AAMs, anti-tank and anti-ship missiles
and various types of radars. The
value of the defence projects envisaged until 2010 is more than $ 10
billion. Indian contracts will
keep almost 800 Russian defence production units in operation.
It is another matter that problems will arise for us from
deficiencies in the Russia such as ageing manpower, obsolescent machinery
and dependence on exports.
background to the Indo-Soviet cooperation in defence matters was Pakistan
being treated by the US with special favour from the time of Eisenhower
and Dulles and the formation of regional alliances lime SEATO and CENTO.
Little heed was paid to Pakistan’s objective of wresting control
over Jammu & Kashmir or to Indian protests against substantial arms
transfers to Pakistan. The US
was reluctant to sell such weapons to India lest Pakistan should be
alienated. Britain and France
set unacceptable conditions for arms transfers to India.
India was obliged to turn to the Soviet Union for its requirements
of weapons, although it attracted criticism that it was deviating from its
nonaligned pretensions. The
Soviet Union supplied several systems like helicopters and transport
aircraft and later agreed to set up MiG 21 production facilities in India.
After the border war with China in 1962, India understood the need
to be better prepared militarily. The
US established a chain of radars along the northern belt, but its offer of
a ‘defence umbrella’ was unacceptable.
The US would not supply F 104 jet aircraft to India.
Soviet arms transfers to India became
diverse and abundant. The IAF
acquired aircraft such as Su 7, MiG 23, MiG 25, MiG 27 and MiG 27
progressively. Besides helicopters comprising Mi 4, Mi 8, Mi 17, there
were Mi 24/35 gunships and the heavy lift Mi 26 IL 14, AN 32 and IL 76.
The Indian Army acquired T 54, T 55 tanks, the amphibious PT 22 and PT 76,
and later on T 72 tanks. Artillery
130 mm guns, multi-barrel rocket systems and other infantry weapons were
put into operation. Pechora
and OSA SAMs, Kvadrat missiles, Schilka tracked AA guns and the twin
barrel Zu guns were procured for air defence.
The Indian Navy inducted Soviet submarines, OSA missile boats,
Petya patrol crafts, Nanuchka corvettes, Kashin class destroyers, landing
crafts and motor torpedo boats. A
significant feature was that the Soviet Union effected transfer of
technology also, helping India to create a defence industry base with
Indian engineers, scientists and technical personnel.
One drawback was India’s over-dependence on imported design which
cramped our own research and development and creativity.
The Soviet indulgence to India was grounded
in realpolitik and logic. A
friendly India made the Soviet Union a more attractive partner for other
developing countries. A strong
India could be a counterweight to China, which had fallen foul of the
Soviet Union... A dependable
India could be a bulwark against the strategic alliances between the US
and Pakistan, China and Pakistan and US and China.
A dependent India with the Soviet Union in the vantage position
could be a profitable long-term investment.
There was a complementary match between the strengths and deficits
of the Soviet Union and India.
It suited the international geopolitical
The Treaty of Friendship in August 1971 was
the acme of the relationship. It
provided for the two countries to enter into immediate consultations if
either was subjected to external attack.
On occasion during a conflict planeloads of military materiel were
conveyed to Indian airbases. The
propaganda value of Soviet weaponry in war boosted the Soviet Union’s
military industrial complex.
When an Indian cosmonaut trained in the
Soviet Union was launched in a Soviet spacecraft in 1984, it caught the
imagination of the Indian public and enhanced the image of the Soviet
In that period, the Soviet Union sold its
materiel at ‘friendship prices’ which were much lower than comparable
products in the Western market. But
product and spares support was not efficient.
India had to keep surplus stocks of essential spares.
Delays in replacement meant that planes had to be kept grounded,
and some naval craft kept idle.
While Soviet aircraft were very robust in
their aerodynamics and the engines were powerful, their fuel efficiency
was lower than the Western norms. The
Sukhoi 7 attack plane guzzled fuel. Soviet
avionics lagged behind the performance of Western models.
Cockpit designing was poor. This
told on the healthcare of the pilots.
Modifications were made for Indian conditions.
In the Bangladesh operation of 1971, the Soviet Union rushed to
deliver a consignment of S 24 rockets, but the snag was that the IAF could
not utilise them when they would have been useful in the war.
The cooperation was laudable, but India was ever the beneficiary.
Things are different now.
Changes in the world balance of forces bear
on India-Russia relations. Both
are re-establishing their equation as emerging major players, though in
the context of the sole superpower which can effectively counter
challenges to its dominance.
current growth rate is 6-7%, with its GDP close to $ 1.5 trillion and the
world’s largest energy reserves, including 13% of proven oil finds, 34%
of natural gas and 25% of coal. But because of the perma-frost conditions,
it costs $ 14 to extract a barrel of oil in Russia as compared to $ 4 in
Kuwait. Russia is over-reliant on extracting energy and other natural
resources. With a landmass five times the size of India, Russia has a
population of only 142 million and that too is shrinking at the rate of
350,000 every year. Russia is headed for a demographic catastrophe. Russia
fears that Siberia and the Far East would soon be over-run by migrant
Chinese labour. No immediate
solutions are in sight.
India has a vibrant economy, but poor
implementation of policy has distorted its development pattern, since
large numbers still do not have basic health, education and
infrastructure. But a new India is emerging, harder and more
self-assertive, a young India more open
to new ideas, having divested itself of the baggage of anti-colonialism, a
confident India able to take a more pragmatic view of the world.
India and Russia search for a renewal of
the old relationship in a new paradigm. The warmth of 1971 has waned; a
chill in the relationship is felt. Russia,
apprehensive of the advance of NATO in its former republics, is forging a
strategic coalition with China, unmindful of Indian interests. The Su 30
MKI technology, funded by India, has been transferred to China, now a
major importer of advanced Russian weapons.
Russian personnel are working in Chinese defence facilities to
produce fighter aircraft, which could be exported to Pakistan, in
violation of an earlier Indo-Russian understanding.
Su-30 MKI technology, funded by India, has been transferred to China,
which has become a major importer of Russia hi-tech weaponry. China, with
ex-Soviet Union scientists and engineers working in its defence facilities
is producing fighter aircraft, now being fitted with Russian engines, and
exporting them to Pakistan in a clear violation of an earlier
understanding with India. All major weapon deals between India and Russia
have run into cost and time over-runs. The INS Vikramaditya still
languishes in Russian waters and a firm delivery date is yet to
materialise with Russia citing earlier underassessment of refurbishment
costs as the cause of delay. The Akula-II nuclear submarine will take
considerably longer to join the Indian Navy on lease for 10 years. The
upgrading of two IL-38 aircraft was delayed by nearly 2 years and the
final product arrived in India minus the avionics and the weapon systems.
India has had to agree to raise the annual cost escalation for all major
deals including the Su-30 project, from 2.8% to 5 %. The Ayni airbase near
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, developed by India, probably will be denied to India
at Russia's behest. An element of coercion is evident.
Joint production of defence equipment is a
recent trend. Brahmos is a
success story. However, for
the fifth generation fighter deal, which was intended to be of joint
design and production, India has come in only after the design was frozen.
Other joint efforts planned are for a transport aircraft and
additional reactors for Koodankulam. An
agreement has been signed on India’s access to the navigational signals
of the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLASNOST) and to a part
of its radio frequency spectrum. The
two countries are to work on a satellite project.
Russia will also assist India in its moon mission, ‘Chandrayaan’.
Despite compulsion, both sides continue the
strategic relationship in a changed environment.
India wishes it to conform to our national interest.
India has often expressed gratitude for Russia’s considerable
material and diplomatic support. Russia
for its part demurs at India upgrading its relations with the US, but as a
sovereign country India cannot accept interference from other powers.
Russia has been the predominant supplier of arms to India, but such
a high level of dependency is not in our national interest.
India is rightly taking steps to diversify its sourcing of
armament, which is needed to correct the strategic defect of six decades.
Diversification will also oblige the Indian DRDO to give a better
account of its performance for the budget of Rs. 15,000 crores per annum
over the decade 2010-20 and put India on track for self reliance in
defence production. Joint ventures with Russia should help the process.
Future defence deals India makes should include a provision for
The IAF is obliged to approach other global
suppliers for 126 fighter aircraft worth $ 7 billion because the LCA
programme with Russia has been delayed so long and our own e combat
aircraft fleet is depleted. Russia
is peeved at this, realizing that it is not among the likely contenders
for the deal. It has indicated
its grievance by downgrading the status of visits by our senior ministers.
The Russian aircraft on offer is an upgraded version of an outdated
design. If the Russian
aircraft is short-listed, India must carefully analyse Russia’s capacity
to provide product support throughout its life-cycle.
Unfortunately, the Russian design is not the latest, and has not
involved Indian cooperation as a joint developer..
If the deal for the new fighter aircraft is
finalised by India with another supplier, it will affect Indo-Russian
strategic relations. Both
countries will then need to manage the diplomatic fallout skillfully.
Both sides must learn to manage their strategic relationship in
consonance with their national interests.
For our military purposes, it is necessary
for India to diversify sourcing of weapon systems and to reduce dependency
on Russia, without affecting the operational preparedness of our armed
forces. It is though joint
participation in defence production, space, nuclear and scientific
cooperation and energy research that the strategic relationship of the two
countries can be revitalised.
Chairman, invited questions and
comments from the audience. A
brief review is given below.
bilateral relationship is largely based on defence cooperation and should
be expanded to other fields. Amb.
Sikri agreed that economic exchanges present the weakest link in the
relationship. The private
sector is attracted by profits available elsewhere.
Ignorance of Russian technological capacities in India and
restrictions on business visas also restrict business exchanges.
Through expos and special displays, the two countries can improve
the knowledge deficit to some extent.
We need to make and sustain a greater effort to this end.
has been fixated on cultivating China as a priority.
Russia must also reach out to India if the relationship is to
become more mutually rewarding. The
Indian Naval Chief’s grievance (about delay in the transfer of the
refitted Russian aircraft carrier) shows that Russia must heed the
customer-partner’s requirement more carefully.
Air Marshal Menon agreed
that in defence matters, lines of communication need to be reliable as
regards indenting of spare parts and that delay in delivery make our plans
go awry. Amb.
Sikri stressed that the press should convey accurate information in
these matters. Some reporting
tends to be motivated and exaggerates the cost escalation of equipment due
to changes in currency exchange rate.
Our negotiators visit Moscow to sort out such differences with the
Russian officials. There is no
need for alarmist reporting. There
are different lobbies operating in both countries, which we need to be
noted vigilantly, since they may represent particular interests not
consistent with India’s best interest.
view was expressed that the US had blocked India in dealings with
Pakistan. “Russia is back”.
The nuclear deal with the US had been complicated by the Hyde Act.
Russia was better disposed to India in this regard.
Amb. Sikri narrated the
sequence of the nuclear deal with the US since Dr. A.R. Kakodkar, Chairman
of the Department of Atomic Energy was called to Washington to take part
in the negotiations at Washington during the PM’s visit there in July
2005. Since then India has
veered towards the US policy on sanctions against Iran at the IAEA. Our
relations with the US have become complicated by the tension in US-Russian
Marshal Menon denied the charge
reportedly made by an American defence analyst that the Indian side was
involved in corruption in procurement of equipment from the Soviet Union.
members urged India to review
its Iran policy and be more aware of Russian moves in West Asia, Central
Asia and Turkey, where the two countries have convergent interests, in
contrast to the US policy in this important region.
a question on what India could do to raise the level of Russian interest
in us, Amb. Sikri replied that
our government could show more understanding of Russia and its problems,
considering that Putin in his January 2007 visit to New Delhi showed a
more appreciative warmth towards India than he did in 2002.
There is a way of tackling Russians.
The impression they have that India is far too much swayed by US
concerns should be removed.
defence cooperation, Air Marshal
Menon reiterated the Indian side’s concerns about unsupplied spare
parts, the Russian interpretation of Intellectual Property Rights to block
India manufacturing some essential parts, the escalation of prices.
There is no easy solution, but joint production of some equipment
is a possible way out.
view was expressed that, India should give more scope in defence
production to the private sector also.
But the commercial viability of any project would depend on the
scale of production and the size of the facility.
Air Marshal Menon accepted that Russia tended to take India for granted in some defence deals. Russia is not yet a promising partner for business and production deals.
The Chairman recalled his own experience of working in the Indian Embassy in Moscow in the latter half of the 1985. The transition from the Soviet Union to Russia is a historical phase in the international sphere, to be seen in the background of the post-Yalta period and the post-Mao period in China. The Soviet Union came to India’s rescue through defence and diplomatic cooperation over a long and critical period, even supplying advanced equipment like MiG 29 aircraft at moderate prices. The Soviet system was very different from ours, with the procurement of parts for materiel spread over several distant facilities, each with its own problems. This made it difficult to provide specific spares when we wanted them. All great powers want to have good relations with their partners without letting one relationship spoil another important relationships. In the Nonaligned Movement India worked for a similar independence.
Amb. Rajiv Sikri added that overall the most important component of the bilateral relationship is defence. Despite the problems which have come up on spares and costs, India continues to receive important materiel from Russia. Both are jointly planning for nuclear-powered submarines and fifth generation fighter aircraft. PM’s economic-centric view of foreign policy should take into account complex political and other aspects that India has to weigh in order to balance its relations with the major powers, the US, China and Russia and the main regional powers.
seminar brought out the main facets of Indo-Russian relations in the 21st
century as distinct from those of the Soviet period, from the 1950’s to
1991 and the languishing bilateral context of the 1990’s.
The three main speakers covered the historical, political, defence,
space, science, nuclear, economic and cultural relations in some detail,
with some overlapping and difference of approach.
There is a perceptible lag in bilateral trade which can be reduced
with a better mutual appreciation of each other’s demand profile.
The discussion reflected the divergence between two views: one that
stressed the importance of cultivating Russia as India’s reliable and
inter-related trends are relevant: first,
the rise of Russia as a major power since Putin’s accession as President
and second, the concurrent reversion to acrimonious tension in US-Russian
relations, reminiscent of the Cold War period.
Meanwhile, the swift rise of China to prominent global status and
Russia’s high priority to China in its foreign policy complicate
Indo-Russian ties to an extent. In
a sense, the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union continued in a
subdued and disguised form even after the precipitate collapse and
break-up of the Soviet Union, with the US taking strategic advantage of
Russia’s economic weakness and strategic vulnerability.
This was the time when India was obliged to seek out other
alternatives to an overly dependent partnership with the Soviet Union.
rise of Russia is made possible mainly on its bountiful
oil and gas resources and secondly on its gradual recovery as a
provider of defence materiel to partners, which now include China in a
paradoxical turn of international equations.
Russia has also been active in forging close ties with the former
Soviet Central Asian republics like Kazakhstan through the SCO and as
partners in the increasingly strategic field of energy diplomacy.
In West Asia too Russia has been quick to seize its chances of
improving bilateral ties, especially with Iran, despite heavy political
pressure from the US and the West. It
is in India’s interest not to go counter to the tenor of these
developments by moves which could be misconstrued as undue identification
with US policies.
defence cooperation will remain one of the main planks in our bilateral
relations, it behoves both countries to nourish it with mutual
understanding, patience and concern. India
is doubtless trying to settle particular difficulties on spares and costs
through negotiation. Meanwhile,
the policy of diversifying our military procurement has to continue, but
without giving cause for resentment to Russian competitors.
India has the diplomatic skill to negotiate such difficult passages
and leaders to diffuse any misunderstanding.
The need is to avoid such contingencies as far as possible through
prior mutual consultations.
civilian nuclear cooperation, much depends on the outcome of the deal with
the US and the consequent negotiations with the IAEA, which will bind
Russia as a supplier. The
Koodankulam project is a pioneering effort which can be expanded, provided
the international setting does not obstruct it and our requirements mesh
with the Russian terms of supply. On
cooperation in science and technology and space related matters, the two
countries can and should intensify their partnership by increasing their
exchanges of experts, scientists, engineers and research students.
IT is a field where both should seek niches of mutual reinforcement
to achieve better results as exporters of hardware, software and
consultancy services to third countries.
The deficit in social and cultural exchanges can also be corrected,
building on the presentations envisaged in 2008.
the India-Russia partnership is a key element in our foreign policy which
needs careful nurturing and continuous monitoring at top levels.
It is indispensable in the emergence of a truly multipolar world
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