70th Anniversary of Russia-India Relations: New Horizons of Privileged Partnership (VIF-RIAC Joint Paper)
(VIF-RIAC Joint Paper)

India had an enduring friendship with the Soviet Union during much of the Cold War. The two countries built a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relations that culminated in the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation in August 1971. This was a remarkable diplomatic achievement for both India and the Soviet Union. Treaty served India and the USSR well during height of the Cold War, and relations were the strongest between them in the late 1970s.

However, due to changing global realities and their own preoccupations at the end of the Cold War, the relationship began to drift. It is only in recent years that once again India and Russia are trying to find ways to forge a common response to the new challenges facing the international community by refocusing on each other.

Over the last 15 years, the trade turnover between Russia and India has grown six-fold, large-scale military-technical projects have been implemented, natural resources have been developed jointly, and the number of academic programmes and educational exchanges has been growing. Russia and India enjoy a relationship based on deep trust and understanding, but need to do more to forge common positions on influential international platforms, including new platforms such as BRICS.

Still, to achieve substantial progress in bilateral relations it is necessary to renew their strategic paradigm. Working on a range of cooperation projects that meet the new economic needs of Russia and India will make a qualitative leap in economic ties possible. Joint initiatives should be based on the global competitive edge of both countries and transition to new development models. The cooperation mechanisms must be revised to adapt to new realities. The ultimate goal of this revision is to make Russia–India relations independent of their ties with third countries and impervious to crises and changes in global circumstances.

The present paper, which is a result of a joint effort undertaken by the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), opens up a new discussion on the prospects of relations between the two countries and the steps required to develop them further. The authors express hope that ideas and recommendations expressed herein will provide the necessary expert support for state level contacts and will be helpful in foreign policy decision-making by the two governments.

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First Published in Russian International Affairs Council
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