Round Table Discussion on India - Russia Relations
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The VIF hosted a focused Round Table discussion on India- Russia Relations- the way Forward on August 27, 2015 to look at ways to reenergize India’s relations with Russia at a time when Russia is isolated internationally and is drawing increasingly into China’s fold. The need for such a discussion was felt as Indo-Russian relations have traditionally been marked by genuine warmth and trust resulting in close economic and security cooperation between the two countries since India’s independence. During much of the Cold War, India and Russia were also strategic geopolitical allies and the 1971 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation only strengthened this bond. However after the end of the Cold War, the relationship, while essentially problem-free, has lost a lot of the earlier momentum, mainly due to a weak and stagnant economic link and a declining defence partnership between the two. Today there is a perception that India-Russia relationship is adrift and this needs to be addressed by reenergizing ties through forging closer strategic ties with an internationally isolated Russia.

The Round Table discussion comprised five main themes, viz.

  1. Russia’s geopolitical importance for India. The Eurasia factor.
  2. Russia and China – implications for India
  3. Russia and India’s energy security
  4. The future of India-Russia Defence Cooperation
  5. Scope for Economic Engagement

The discussion was moderated by Ambassador Kanwal while VIF Director, Gen NC Vij, made both the opening as well as closing remarks. Precise presentations on each of the themes were made by: Ambassadors Prabhat Shukla, Ajai Malhotra and TCA Rangachari, Lt. Gen. JP Singh, AVM Manmohan Bahadur, Dr. Sanjaya Baru, Mr. Nandan Unnikrishnan, Mr. Samar Shakil and Mr. Deepak Loomba.

There was consensus that India needs to factor geopolitical developments in Eurasia into its overall foreign policy calculus and devise ways to forge closer strategic ties with an internationally isolated Russia. The weakening of Russia’s international role is against India’s strategic interests. For India, a strong relationship with Russia is necessary to balance its foreign policy priorities and for its own strategic autonomy. The strengthening Russia-China relationship, including the increased flow of Russian defence supplies to China, in response to western pressures on Russia is also contrary to our interests requiring a frank dialogue with Russia. India has to ensure that its longer term interests are not compromised beyond a point because of these developments. Beyond that, to preserve our strategic autonomy and for a better balance in our international ties, we need to conserve our relationship with Russia that has been cemented by mutual confidence over decades. India should therefore build its relations with the US/West and Russia independently of each other and based on India’s core interests.

Event Date 
August 27, 2015
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