India to resume engagements with Russia after cooling tensions with China

Sandeep Dikshit

Today News Online Service

New Delhi, February 11

Having reduced tensions with China after the simultaneous disengagement of troops began in Eastern Ladakh, India will renew its engagement with Russia that will culminate in a visit by Vladimir Putin for a summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources have said.

In the run up to the summit, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will visit Moscow, followed by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar co-chairing a meeting of a joint working group to consolidate the agenda for the Modi-Putin summit.

Besides dealing with bilateral issues, the South Block is keen on multilateral initiatives with Russia. It will seek to put the India-Japan-Russia trilateral on a firmer footing with the unstated purpose of reducing the need for Moscow to seek China’s participation in the development of the vast Russian Far East rich in minerals and hydrocarbons.

A trial run of the Vladivostok-Chennai sea corridor will be followed up by more substantial programs. India will also be looking to activate its $1 billion line-of-credit for the development of the Russian Far East.

India is also poised to produce the Sputnik vaccine which could hit the markets by March-April, after regulatory approvals. India has already earned much diplomatic goodwill by despatching made-in-India vaccines far and wide. The commercial production of Sputnik will see India’s vaccine diplomacy extend its footprint to Central Asian and other countries.

The year 2020 was the first in two decades when an India-Russia summit meeting was not held. Both sides put the onus for lack of substantial engagements on the COVID-19 pandemic though bilateral ties had briefly suffered an abrasion after the Foreign Office interpreted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s observations on the Indo-Pacific as patronising.

“The two sides will also be looking to fine-tune the programme for military-technical cooperation for the next decade to tailor to India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat policy of joint development and production of military platforms. The attempt will be to agree on a joint production plan on the lines of manufacturing of Kamov and AK-203 rifles in India but more ambitious in nature,” said other sources.

The Foreign Secretary will leave for Moscow after the Parliament Session is over while Jaishankar will conduct an across-the-board review of India-Russia relations with his Russian counterpart.

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