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Modi and Putin to discuss Ukraine, Indo-Pacific bilateral cooperation

India's Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Putin will co-chair the 22nd Russia-India Annual Summit in Moscow on July 9, focusing on bolstering economic ties, addressing trade imbalances, and enhancing cooperation in the energy, defence, and nuclear sectors. The summit aims to discuss bilateral issues, regional developments, and cooperation in BRICS and the UN.

Modi and Putin to discuss Ukraine Indo Pacific bilateral cooperation
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First Published Jul 6, 2024, 11:40 AM IST

India’s foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra announced that Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin would co-chair the 22nd Russia-India Annual Summit in Moscow on July 9. The two leaders are set to engage in both private discussions and delegation-level talks at the Kremlin. Modi is set to arrive in Moscow on July 8. India aims to strengthen economic ties with Russia, focusing on boosting its exports during Modi’s forthcoming meeting with Putin at the Kremlin next week, Kwatra said on Friday (July 5).

India-Russia trade has grown significantly in 2023-’24, reaching nearly $65 billion, thanks largely to strong energy cooperation. However, trade is imbalanced, with Indian exports at $4 billion and imports at nearly $60 billion. This imbalance is a key issue at the talks with Russia, according to Kwatra at a special media briefing in New Delhi.

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Kwatra highlighted the expanding investment ties between the two nations, particularly in the energy, banking, railways, and steel sectors. He also noted Russia's crucial role in supporting India's energy security and defence needs. In nuclear energy, Units I and -II of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) are already operational and work on Units III and -IV is underway, according to Kwatra. The senior diplomat emphasized that despite recent geopolitical challenges, the "special and privileged strategic partnership" between India and Russia has remained robust.

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Last month, during the Apulia Summit in Italy, G7 nations pledged to take action against third-party entities that were bypassing Western sanctions and called for stricter enforcement of the ‘price cap’ on Russian oil. When asked by Sputnik, a Russian media outlet, if Western sanctions would affect New Delhi’s efforts to address the trade imbalance with Russia, he replied that, despite the threat of these sanctions, India would safeguard its interests and continue trading with Russia.

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According to Kwatra, India had always been careful to follow UN sanctions. As for the G7 sanctions, India still stays in regular contact with the G7 to protect and advance its national interests. This includes India’s economic and political interests, he emphasised, whether in the diamond industry or other sectors.

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What PM Modi plans for the annual summit

Kwatra noted that organizing the annual summit is a top scheduling priority for India during Prime Minister Modi's third term. The forthcoming leadership talks will be the first meeting between the two countries since December 2021 when Putin visited New Delhi.

Kwatra outlined Prime Minister Modi's agenda for discussions with President Putin, highlighting that the 22nd Summit would allow both leaders to review numerous bilateral issues. These encompass defence, trade, investment, energy cooperation, science and technology, education, culture, and people-to-people exchanges.

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According to Kwatra, they will exchange views on regional and global developments of mutual interest and evaluate the status of their cooperation in such groups as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, G20, East Asia Summit, and the United Nations. He hinted that Modi was likely to discuss the issue of Indian nationals serving in the Russian Army. Kwatra also mentioned that the situation in Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific—including the India-China border dispute in Ladakh—was expected to come up in the leaders’ discussions.

The foreign secretary added that boosting cooperation in connectivity projects—such as the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor and Chabahar port—would be a key topic in the talks between Putin and Modi. Kwatra said that both countries had prepared a series of outcome documents, which would be announced next week.

(The author of this article is a Defence, Aerospace & Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. He is also the Director of ADD Engineering Components, India, Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany. You can reach him at: girishlinganna@gmail.com)

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