The two-day 19th annual Summit of Indian and Russian leaders ended in the Indian capital of New Delhi on the 5th. During the Summit, India and Russia formally signed a purchase agreement for the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system worth more than US$5 billion. In addition, the two countries also agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fields of energy, aerospace, economics and trade.
Analysts believe that India signed a missile procurement agreement with Russia in spite of US opposition,, demonstrating its stance of insistence on independence in foreign policy. From the perspective of safeguarding its own interests, India will continue to pursue a diplomatic strategy that seeks a balance between the United States and Russia.
The India-Russia Leaders’ Summit is the highest level of talks between the two countries. It began in 2000 and takes place in each country in alternate years.
The joint statement issued after the Summit said that India and Russia reaffirmed the maintenance of a privileged strategic partnership and believed that such relations “are an important factor for global peace and stability.”
Indian Prime Minister Modi said at a joint press conference that India-Russia bilateral relations have become more important in an ever-changing world. The Summit “pointed a new direction” for the strategic partnership between the two countries.
India and Russia disregarded US warnings against India signing up for the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system purchase agreement is the biggest point of the Summit. According to the agreement, India will purchase a US$5.43 billion anti-aircraft missile system from Russia . It is to be delivered by the end of 2020.
Before Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India, the United States warned that the Russian S-400 air defense missile system would be a “key area” triggering US sanctions. The United States does not rule out sanctions against India under the “counter-attack by the United States”. A US State Department spokesman said: “We urge all allies and partners to abandon the deal with Russia, because these transactions will trigger sanctions.”
In addition to the defense field, India and Russia also agreed to strengthen cooperation in other fields such as energy. The two sides are studying the feasibility of building a natural gas pipeline from Russia to India and encouraging Indian companies to jointly mine oil in Russia. India has significantly increased its investment in the Russian energy sector in recent years, and Russia has become India’s main natural gas supplier.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two countries, Russia will also take steps jointly with India in the field of manned space flights to help India complete its first manned space mission and train Indian astronauts. In the economic and trade field, the two sides indicated that they will hold the first Strategic Economic Dialogue meeting in Russia this year, and increase bilateral investment to 30 billion US dollars by 2025.
Analysts believe that Putin’s visit was held shortly after the “2+2” dialogue between India and the United States in New Delhi, which was attended by the two Foreign and Defense Ministers. It reflects India’s diplomatic strategy of seeking a balance between the United States and Russia.
In an interview with Xinhua News Agency, former Indian Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Ashok Sajhanhar, pointed out that India-Russia relations have stood the test of time and are an important pillar of India’s foreign policy. He said that although India-US relations have “developed very well” recently , India-Russia relations are still very important. India hopes to be free to purchase defense equipment from the United States and Russia, and hopes that the United States will grant sanctions exemption for India for its purchase of the S-400 air defense missile system from Russia.
Swaran Singh, Professor at the School of International Studies at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University in India, believes that the India-Russia strategic partnership is very important because both countries face major challenges. He pointed out that India’s diplomacy, centered on “strategic autonomy”, will continue to strive to maintain a balance between all major powers. Russia has always been the most reliable partner in sensitive areas such as defense, space and nuclear technology. Even today, more than 65% of India’s defense equipment comes from the Soviet Union and Russia.
The joint statement issued by India and Russia after the Summit was entitled “India-Russia: A Lasting Partnership in a Changing World.” However, some analysts pointed out that both sides will be tested, in the context of the drastic changes in the geopolitical environment, whether this strategic partnership is strong enough to withstand changes in the international situation is .
(Xinhua News Agency, New Delhi, October 6th, reporter Hu Xiaoming)