India’s relation with Russia is being considered as an age-old relation and the relationship between both the nations started way back in the early 20th century. Russian influence was there on the India’s independence movement. Many Indian freedom fighters got influenced by the Russian socialist ideology and there was even a socialist group among the Indian National Congress. Russian Revolution 1905 had also inspired the India’s Independence movement.
RUSSIA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE INDEPENDENT INDIA
- Russia (the then USSR) had stopped anti Indian activities in Jammu and Kashmir and in Goa.
- Repetitive raising of Jammu and Kashmir issue by Pakistan in UN had been obstructed by Russia.
- India’s 5-year plan was based on erstwhile USSR lines.
- Erst while USSR used to supply capital and technological assistance for the Capital goods industries in India.
- In the 1962 Indo – China war, Russia remained as a neutral force while in 1965 into – Pakistan war, Russia worked as a peace broker.
- Indo -soviet friendship treaty 1971, through which USSR supported India in the Bangladesh liberation war against Pakistan.
- The Indo–Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation was a treaty signed between India and the Soviet Union in August 1971 that specified mutual strategic cooperation. This was a significant deviation from India’s previous position of non-alignment during the Cold War and was a factor in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war.
- The treaty was caused by increasing Pakistani ties with China and the United States and played an important role in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. The duration of the treaty was of 20 years and it was renewed for another 20 years on 8 August 1991. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union it was replaced by a 20-year Treaty of Indo-Russian Friendship and Cooperation during President Yeltsin’s visit to New Delhi in January 1993.
- Both the nations had signed 2 treaties-
- Indo-Russia strategic partnership Agreement 2000
On 3rd October, 2000, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Vladimir Putin signed the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and India. Over the subsequent years, annual summits between the leaders have strengthened this partnership to ever greater heights and not a single annual Summit has been skipped. This demonstrates the level of significance they assign to each other.
- Indo – Russia special and privileged strategic agreement 2010.
During the visit of the then Russian president Dimitri Medvedev, to India in September 2010, the strategic partnership was elevated to the level of a special and privileged strategic partnership.
TRADE AND ECONOMIC RELATIONS
- Both the countries are trying to increase the bilateral investment to US$50 billion and bilateral trade toUS$30 billion by 2025.
- Russian investment in India is at $ 18 billion and the Indian investment in Russia stands at $13 billion.
- Rupee-Rouble credit fund – A payment mechanism which can allow Indian exporters to be paid in Indian rupees for their exports to Russia instead of standard international currencies such as dollar or euro.
- Government of India had also decided to provide $1 billion credit to Russia for developing its far east part.
- Reciprocal Exchange of Logistic Agreement (RELOS).
SPACE AND SCIENCE
- India’s engagement with Russia in space relationships dated back to 1975, when the erstwhile Soviet Union helped in the launch of Aryabhata (India’s first satellite), from the Soyuz Launch Vehicle.
- Even the second satellite Bhaskara was launched from Soviet Union in 1979.
- Just under a decade later in 1984, the Soviets gave a big morale booster to India by accommodating Sq. Ldr Rakesh Sharma to fly on the Soyuz T-11 spaceship, launched from Baikanur cosmodrome in Soviet Union, as part of the Interkosmos programme.
- In 2007, India and Russia signed a framework agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, including satellite launches, GLONASS navigation, remote sensing and other societal applications of outer space.
- ISRO-ROSCOSMOS joint agreement for India’s Human spaceflight programme named “Gaganyan”.
ü Gaganyaan is the human space flight programme under which Indian astronauts will go into space by 2022.and this will be done by using its own capabilities.
ü A GSLV-Mk III launch vehicle will lift them to their orbit, which has the necessary payload capability to launch a three-member crew module in low earth orbit.
ü If successful, India would become the fourth nation to conduct a human space flight programme after USSR/Russia, USA and China. It is a ₹10,000-crore Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022.
ü India had signed agreements with Russia and France for cooperation on the Gaganyaan mission.
- Gaganyaan is the human space flight programme under which Indian astronauts will go into space by 2022.and this will be done by using its own capabilities.
- A GSLV-Mk III launch vehicle will lift them to their orbit, which has the necessary payload capability to launch a three-member crew module in low earth orbit.
- If successful, India would become the fourth nation to conduct a human space flight programme after USSR/Russia, USA and China. It is a ₹10,000-crore Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022.
- India had signed agreements with Russia and France for cooperation on the Gaganyaan mission.
Defense cooperation is one of the key pillars of the India-Russia relationship. In recent years, there has been an overall decline in Indian arms imports, which has hit Russia the hardest. Despite this, Russia accounted for about 58% of Indian arms imports between 2014 and 2018. Historically, Russia has been India’s largest defense partner, and this continues to be the case. About 86% of equipment, platforms, and weapons of the Indian Armed Forces currently in military service are of Russian origin.
- Defence deal since 2018 has crossed $15 billion mark which itself is a huge amount.
- Both the nations have collaborated in the field of Missile Technology for the joint development of Brahmos missile.
- BRAHMOS is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia(a rocket design bureau based in Reutov, Russia), named on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.
- It is a two-stage (solid propellant engine in the first stage and liquid ramjet in second) air to surface missile with a flight range of around 300 km. However, India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has extended the range of the BRAHMOS missile to reach 450 km-600km, a shade above its current MTCR capped range of 300 km.
- In spite of the fear of US CAATSA sanctions, India moved ahead with its S 400 Missile purchase agreement with Russia.
ü CAATSA is a US law that came into effect in the year 2017, and was meant to punish those countries having deep engagements with Russia, North Korea, and Iran using economic sanctions.
- CAATSA is a US law that came into effect in the year 2017, and was meant to punish those countries having deep engagements with Russia, North Korea, and Iran using economic sanctions.
ü It is an air defence missile system that can take down enemies’ aircraft in the sky from the surface itself.
ü The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface to air missile defence system, capable of destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380 KM.
ü India, in order to be well equipped against its neighbours needed S-400 air defence missile system as it would be like a “booster shot” for the Indian Air Force.
- It is an air defence missile system that can take down enemies’ aircraft in the sky from the surface itself.
- The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface to air missile defence system, capable of destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380 KM.
- India, in order to be well equipped against its neighbours needed S-400 air defence missile system as it would be like a “booster shot” for the Indian Air Force.
- India-Russia military technical cooperation agreement has evolved from a buyer seller framework to one involving Joint venture and technical cooperation i.e.; from transactional to collaborative partners.
- g. – 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.
- There are deals to manufacture KMAV 226T helicopters, AK-203 rifles, and Krivak III frigates in India either through licensing or joint manufacturing. They are also involved in the research and development of a fifth-generation fighter jet.
- Both the countries have decided to jointly invest in the Research and Development field.
e.g. – AK 203 assault rifle manufacturing in a shared basis of 50.5(India): 49.5 (Russia).
AK-203 is an assault rifle designed by Russia which is considered to be the latest and most advanced version of the AK-47 rifle. They will be replacing the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles.The AK-203 rifle is reliable, durable and easy to maintain. It also has better ergonomics, accuracy and density of fire. They are also considered lighter, shorter and deadlier than the INSAS rifle. As per the contract, over 6.1 lakh AK-203 riffles costing over Rs 5000cr will be manufactured by a joint venture, Indo-Russian Riffles Private Ltd (IRRPL), at Korwa, Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
- Reciprocal Exchange of Logistic Agreement (RELOS) –
- India is all set to conclude the bilateral logistics agreement with Russia (the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS).
- Bilateral logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities of both the countries to each other for the logistics and maintenance between the armed forces and increasing operational turnaround of the military when operating away from India. For e.g., India has signed a number of logistics agreements with all Quad countries, France, Singapore and South Korea beginning with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S. in 2016.
- RELOS would grant access to Russian naval port facilities in the Arctic, thus enhancing Indian Navy’s reach and operational experience in Polar waters.
ENERGY SECTOR COOPERATION
- Russia is so far India’s largest oil and gas investment destination.
e.g. – in the year 2016 -> Indian companies spend 5.4 billion $ in acquiring oil and gas assets Russia.
- Russia had also transferred Reprocessing Technology to India.
- The technology which is used in the chemical procedure for separating plutonium or fissionable uranium from spent nuclear fuel is called Reprocessing technology.
- Russia also helped India in developing its nuclear technology e.g. – Kudamkulam power plant, Tamil Nadu.
- Russia is going to supply 20 new nuclear reactors to India in the next 20 years.
- India has invested nearly USD 8 billion in various companies and projects such as Imperial Energy (Tomsk), Sakhalin-1 oilfield, Volzhsky Abrasive Works (Volgograd) and a few other companies.
- Both India and Russia have collaborated for Joint projects in 3rd countries to counter China.
e.g. – In Bangladesh India is developing Rooppur Nuclear project with the assistance of Russia.
Rooppur nuclear power plant is a 2.4 GW nuclear power plant that is being developed in Bangladesh, which will be the country’s first nuclear power plant and is being built on the bank of River Padma. Russia and India are also involved in this project. It is expected to commence operations in 2023.
- Both the nation Shares common platforms like SCO, BRICS, G20, Russia-India-China trilateral.
- Both had reaffirmed the need to reform the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) to make it more effective in dealing with emerging global challenges.
- Russia is a firm supporter to India’s demand for a permanent membership in an expanded UNSC.
There is widespread support, including by four of the five permanent members of the Security Council – US, UK, France and Russia – for a permanent seat for India at the Council.
- But, China, part of the permanent five (P5) of the UNSC with veto power is blocking India’s efforts to become a member of the UN’s powerful body for years, citing a lack of consensus even though the other four members have supported New Delhi’s membership.
- Recently, India decided to have 2+2 summits with Russia as well.
ABOUT 2+2 MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE
- 2+2 ministerial dialogue is a format of meeting where the defense and foreign ministers or secretaries meet with their counterparts from another country. India holds such talks with Japan and Australia, at the foreign secretary and defence secretary level.
- In the year 2021, the Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India during which, India signed many agreements with Russia. The meeting is significant as it was the first 2+2 meeting between the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries.
- As part of the “Act far East” policy, India had extended 1 billion US $ LoC to Russia for the development of Chennai – Vladivostok Route as part of India’s Act East Policy.
- Act Far East’ is said to be an extension to India’s Act East policy. In general, the Far East as a geographical term refers to East Asia (including Northeast Asia), the Russian far east (part of north Asia) and south east Asia.
- An ocean liner travelling from Vladivostok to Chennai would sail Southward on the Sea of Japan past the Korean peninsula, Taiwan and the Philippines in the South China Sea, past Singapore and through the Strait of Malacca, to emerge into the Bay of Bengal and then cut across through the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago to Chennai.
- Both India and Russia are looking at the feasibility of Chennai-Vladivostok Sea route that would allow India access to Russia’s Far East in 24 days, compared to the 40 days taken by the current route via Suez Canal and Europe. This sea route covers a distance of approximately 5,600 nautical miles, or about 10,300 km and would potentially add the required balance to peace and prosperity in South China Sea and could open new avenues for India, like the India-Russia-Vietnam trilateral cooperation.
- Both India and Russia annually hold exchanges and training exercises between their armed forces.
- The first-ever Tri-Services exercise (Army, Navy, & Air Force) – ‘INDRA 2017’ took place in Vladivostok from October 19 to 29, 2017.
- The bilateral Russian-Indian naval exercise Indra Navy-2018 was held in the Bay of Bengal. Joint Tri-Services Exercise ‘INDRA 2019’ between India and Russia was carried out simultaneously in Babina, Pune, and Goa from 8 10th -19th December 2019.
- Representatives from the Armed Forces of the Republic of India and the Eastern Command of the Russian Federation participated in the exercises, to strengthen field, marine and flight skills as well as improve cooperation between Russia and India’s armed forces.
- Both the countries are looking at expanding the format of exercises to make them more complex and more sophisticated.
PEOPLE TO PEOPLE ENGAGEMENTS
- Teaching Hindi -> In about 20 Russian institutions.
- Russia is having a high viewership of Indian films historically.
- As part of Reciprocal agreement, regular cultural exchanges are taking place between both the countries for the past 6 years.
HURDLES IN THE INDIA RUSSIA RELATIONS
- Strategic concerns
- India did not get any assurances from Russia regarding the issue of Afghanistan.
- Russia being neutral about the Chinese attack on India in its northern borders.
- In order to contain western forces in the name of QUAD, AUKUS, Russia is joining closely with China.
- India is unable to seek Russian cooperation in our extended neighbourhood because it is being overshadowed by the US-China relation.
• The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal strategic forum by four countries namely Australia, India, Japan and USA. It was conceptualized in 2007 by the then-Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, with the support of former US Vice President Dick Cheney along with former Australian PM John Howard and India’s former PM Manmohan Singh.
• The AUKUS is a military alliance and trilateral security deal between Australia, the UK and the US in which the three nations have committed to protect the Indo-Pacific from China’s dominance and built a class of nuclear-propelled submarines.
- The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal strategic forum by four countries namely Australia, India, Japan and USA. It was conceptualized in 2007 by the then-Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, with the support of former US Vice President Dick Cheney along with former Australian PM John Howard and India’s former PM Manmohan Singh.
- The AUKUS is a military alliance and trilateral security deal between Australia, the UK and the US in which the three nations have committed to protect the Indo-Pacific from China’s dominance and built a class of nuclear-propelled submarines.
- Economic /Trade concerns
- Bilateral trade is only as low as 10 billion $ which needs to be improved.
- India had already extended 1 bn $ credit for the development of far east part of Russia, but no progress in it as such.
- No progress as far as INSTC is concerned.
- The INSTC is a 7,200 km-long multimodal transportation network encompassing sea, road, and rail routes to offer the shortest route of connectivity which was established on 12th September 2000 in St. Petersburg, by Iran, Russia and India for the purpose of promoting transportation cooperation among the Member States.
- It links the Indian Ocean to the Caspian Sea via the Persian Gulf onwards into Russia and Northern Europe and will move freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
- Relations between both India and Russia is not elevating beyond government – government interaction to business-business cooperation.
- India failed to sign an agreement on Reciprocal Exchange of Logistic Agreement (RELOS).
- Several experts have opined that India’s heavy dependence on Russia for its defense needs is strategically not desirable.
- India’s decision to diversify its defense imports becomes a competition for the Russian Defense exporters.
- India’s growing closeness with USA for its defense deal raised alarms on the policy makers of Russia.
- There occur several incidences of delayed supply form the Russian side, which lead to the cost escalation and the brunt is being faced by India.
In order to improve its bilateral relations with Russia further, India must diversify its trade and investment, building on the two key sectors of oil and gas, as it cannot flourish on those two alone, and hence should also expand their fields of cooperation and research further in the field of science and technology in order to strike a balance of its alignment with USA.
Indo- Russian relations are transformed from transactional to partnership. Critically examine the statement in the context of Indo-Russian defence and scientific cooperation.(250 Words, 15 Marks)