Remarks by Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov at the Open Discussion at Vivekananda International Foundation, January 8, 2023
H.E. Mr Denis Alipov

Good afternoon!

Esteemed Dr Gupta, Esteemed Dr Bystritskiy, Dear colleagues,

To begin with, I would like to congratulate everyone and welcome the conference that the Valdai Discussion Club and the Vivekananda International Foundation have organized as it happens on the heels of a successful visit of External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar to Russia in December. There were important and trustworthy discussions with President Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Manturov as a co-chair of the Inter-Governmental Commission and Foreign Minister Lavrov that highlighted the priority that our countries attach to the strengthening of our special and privileged strategic partnership. Dr Jaishankar also interacted with the Russian strategic community and ideologists, some of whom are present today as we begin 2024 on a high note with this brainstorming first in the series of prominent bilateral and multilateral engagements, including on the top level.

Russia and India maintain steadfast bilateral relations, underpinned with intensive political dialogue – in 2023, there were several telephone conversations, between the leaders who also participated in the annual SCO and BRICS summits, along with the G20 Leaders’ virtual meeting in November. We resumed the work of the Inter-Governmental Commission, had Speaker of the Federation Council Matvienko visiting India, as also the exchange of visits of heads of Security Councils. Foreign Ministers met seven times during the last year. This dynamics is a reflection of high relevance of our dialogue in the current turbulent geopolitical scenario and is destined to remain so.

It is vividly illustrated by our fruitful interaction on the major international and regional platforms. We stand likeminded in preserving unbiased character of multilateral institutions, focusing on genuine democracy in international affairs and global governance based on the central role of the United Nations and international law, as opposed to the never formulated rules-based order. Russia is fully supportive of India’s right to become a permanent UN Security Council member, given its balanced and independent approach to the most topical issues. The concurrent Indian presidencies in the G20 and the SCO in 2023 have given an opportunity to efficiently promote the agenda of these crucial associations for the sake of overcoming the current economic upheavals, promoting sustainable development goals, digital and energy transition to enhance benefits for all but not a few.

We extensively collaborate within the BRICS format – the expansion of the reputable grouping along with the interest of more than 30 states to join it in various capacity clearly displays the growing aspirations for a multipolar world order based on sovereign equality and mutual respect as stipulated by the UN Charter. The chairmanship of Russia in this forum in 2024 will open new vistas for strengthening the BRICS role in the international monetary and financial system, making it more just and secure.

The integrational processes have accelerated on the Eurasian space, where the SCO occupies a unique place as a gravitational platform for an increasing number of countries that consider it vital for countering the emerging security challenges and promoting inter-regional economic cooperation. After the accession of Iran in 2023 and Belarus in 2024, the increased potential of the organization would contribute substantially to strengthening connectivity of this vast region.

We are hopeful that India and China as major civilizations possessing unique political wisdom will find ways to achieve the progress in the border issue and in normalization of bilateral ties based on mutual respect of sensitive interests. Think about the prospects of a peaceful and secure Eurasian space resting on the principles of undivided security, inclusive dialogue and mutual accommodation instead of confrontation that the West tends to create in the name of universal values. Russia-India-China coordination is regarded by us as a vital basis for regional stability.

I would like to highlight the robust transformation of our bilateral economic cooperation with India, with the record annual trade volume reaching the unprecedented USD 54 billion in 2023 that placed Russia among the top four Indian trading partners. The flagship project of Kudankulam NPP is steadily progressing following the new agreements reached in December 2023. Russia as the world’s unparalleled leader in the civil nuclear sphere is ready to share its cutting-edge technologies, including the small modular reactors. Our country has become the largest oil supplier to India, significantly contributing to its energy security. The scope of extensive cooperation in defence remains unprecedented– offering a wide range of combat-tested military hardware and a full transfer of technology, we are working on joint development and manufacturing of the most sophisticated systems, ensuring a significant contribution to the “Make in India” and “Self-reliant India” initiatives. New prospects emerge in such sectors as civil aviation, sea and river infrastructure, steel production, petrochemistry, shipbuilding, agriculture, digitalization. Our countries are deeply involved in joint projects and research programmes in medicine, telecommunications, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum, bio- and nanotechnologies, applied mathematics and data science, smart cities as well as high-tech, fin-tech and start-ups domains. Another promising venue is space exploration, which includes training of Indian astronauts under the first India’s manned space mission Gaganyan, joint work in the field of satellite navigation and cryogenic rocket technology.

At the moment, the prime goal is to explore the ways of utilizing this gained momentum into the robust framework of new mechanisms to underpin the emerging opportunities of cooperation and achieve a new level of our bilateral ties. We are aimed at diversifying trade turnover and correcting its imbalances, creating favorable conditions in the areas of mutual settlements, payment systems, insurance and logistics and stimulating further business ties, inviting Indian private entities to explore the capacious Russian market and harness the untapped potential. Fresh incentive is expected in the operationalization of the North-South ITC, the Vladivostok-Chennai sea line and the promising venue of the Northern Sea Route, as well as the negotiation process on a free trade zone between the EAEU and India that is currently being drafted.

In all, despite challenging circumstances the Russian-Indian relations remain multidimensional and robust, and there is no doubt that they will continue to grow based on unequivocal mutual interest and trust, contributing to our shared vision of a more fair and just international order. Availing myself of this opportunity, let me also congratulate our Indian friends on the upcoming Vivekananda Jayanti on January 12 – I am sure that the quest for peace and harmony of Guru Swami will be a source of inspiration for all of us.

Thank you!

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