Russia-India bilateral ties and the Ukraine issue
GS 2 India & Foreign Relations Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed & Developing Countries on India’s Interests
- India and Russia recently held a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological, and Cultural Cooperation.
Inter-governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation meet :
Surge in trade
- India and Russia applauded the 2.6-fold increase in bilateral trade over the past year, which surpassed the 2025 goal of $45 billion.
- Both parties acknowledged the issue of trade imbalance and advocated for greater market access and the use of “national currencies” to circumvent sanctions.
- During the meeting, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister suggested that Indian firms could increase exports in road construction and pharmaceuticals.
- As a result of western sanctions, India’s minister of external affairs has cautioned Indian enterprises against “over-compliance” when it comes to increasing trade with Russia.
FTA between India and the Eurasian Economic Union
- They also mentioned the 2017 commencement of negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the Eurasian Economic Union.
- Trade, which has lagged behind in bilateral relations dominated by defense, nuclear, and space cooperation, could be propelled by its signing.
Increased trade & Ukraine issue:
- Although the increase in trade and the endeavor to balance imports and exports with Russia are positive developments, it is difficult to ignore the circumstances surrounding these occurrences.
- Since Russia’s war in Ukraine began last year and western sanctions drastically reduced Russian exports, Moscow has increasingly exported resources to India and other non-sanctioned nations, including China.
- Since the conflict, India’s oil imports from Russia (a negligible 0.2%) have increased to a staggering 28% of its total oil intake, contributing to both trade and a widening deficit.
- When the conflict with Ukraine erupted, many nations, including India, scrambled to find alternatives to Russian exports.
- India’s judgment regarding the purchase of oil from Russia will continue to be governed by its energy security needs.
- Russia’s steep discounts on petroleum oil and fertilizers compelled India to continue trading.
- The decision by India to purchase discounted crude oil from Russia is causing concern among several Western powers.
- In Western nations, the notion that New Delhi “benefits from the war” is acquiring traction.
India’s Stand on Russia’s War with Ukraine:
- Despite its discomfort with Moscow’s conflict, New Delhi has adopted public neutrality toward Russia.
- It abstained from successive votes condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine in the UN Security Council, General Assembly, and Human Rights Council, and has thus far refused to explicitly identify Russia as the instigator of the crisis.
- India has been subjected to substantial indirect pressure from Western nations that have publicly condemned Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.
- India has demanded that the crisis be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
- India and Russia have maintained historically robust strategic, military, economic, and diplomatic ties.
- The Annual Summit between the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism in the India-Russia strategic partnership.
- To date, 20 Annual Summit meetings have alternated between India and Russia.
- There is regular high-level interaction between the two countries.
The IRIGC (India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission)
- It is the primary body responsible for governing affairs between the two countries. Both nations are members of international organizations such as the United Nations, BRICS, G20, and SCO.
wo Inter-Governmental Commissions
- One on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological, and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), co-chaired by the EAM and the Russian DPM, and
- Another on Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC- MTC), co-chaired by the Russian and Indian Defence Ministers, meet yearly.
Trade and Economic Relations
- Both sides revised targets of increasing bilateral investment to US $50 billion and bilateral trade to US $30 billion by 2025.
- India’s merchandise imports from Russia include petroleum oil and other fuel items, fertilizers, coffee and tea, spices, nuclear reactors, and animal and vegetable fats, among others.
- Russia recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record.
- Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation.
- Both parties collaborate on peaceful uses of outer space, such as satellite launches, the GLONASS navigation system, remote sensing, and other societal applications of outer space.
Science & Technology
- The Working Group on Science and Technology under the IRIGC-TEC, the Integrated Long Term Programme (ILTP), and the Basic Science Cooperation Programme are the three most important institutional mechanisms for bilateral Science and Technology cooperation.
- Russians have a strong interest in Indian dance, music, yoga, and Ayurveda;
- the country has a long history of Indian studies.
Defence and Security Cooperation
- BrahMos Missile System, as well as the licensed production of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks in India, are examples of India’s longstanding and extensive cooperation with Russia in the field of defense.
- Both parties reached agreements on the supply of S-400 air defense systems, the construction of frigates under Project 1135.6, and the establishment of a joint venture for the production of Ka-226T helicopters in India.Annually, the two nations conduct INDRA exchanges and training exercises between their armed forces.
Daily Mains Question
[Q] India’s efforts to balance its imports and exports with Russia are commendable, but it is difficult to disregard the context of these developments. Analyse. How does India feel about Russia’s war with Ukraine?