Interaction with Amb PS Raghavan, India’s Former Ambassador to Russia
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The VIF, on March 9, 2016, invited Amb PS Raghavan, who last served as India’s Ambassador to Russia till his retirement in January this year, for a discussion on ‘India-Russia relations: opportunities and challenges’, attended, among others, by top functionaries from the military fraternity and senior diplomats, including two earlier Ambassadors to Russia--former Foreign Secretary Amb Kanwal Sibal and Amb PP Shukla. The interaction kicked off with General NC Vij, Director, VIF, underlining the evident drift in Indo-Russian relations in recent years, especially with Russia increasingly cosying up to India’s arch rivals and India hunting for weapons elsewhere, both traditional no-go zones in their bilateral relationship. The interaction was largely aimed at exploring measures which could arrest this unsavoury trend in their relationship and put the bilateral ties back on tracks.

Amb Raghavan’s presentation, while going into the nuts and bolts of Indo-Russia relationship, flagged several prominent issues for serious consideration among experts. He stressed, among other things, the relationship between India and Russia in recent years has become a prisoner to a set of negative narratives on both sides. While some of these narratives may be genuine as they are borne of new geo-political realties, others
may have been created out of ignorance or by those with vested interests in media, academia and a few government circles. He stressed on public diplomacy to set the perception right about each other to which think tanks in both the countries can contribute significantly. Another major takeaway from the interaction was the need to create as many pillars as possible to support the architecture of bilateral relationship so that if one pillars starts crumbling there will be others to support it. While issues hogging India’s defence acquisitions from Russia such as mode of acquisitions, new purchases, delivery timeline, cost overruns, life-cycle support to products etc were discussed holistically, joint research and production of new equipments were also discussed against the backdrop of ‘Make in India’. It emerged from the discussions that while defence cooperation will continue to form the bulwark of strong Indo-Russian bilateral relationship for the foreseeable future, new vistas of cooperation need to be explored to reenergize the relationship as also sustain it over the long term. To that extent, nuclear energy, hydro carbon, tourism, and regular interactions between prominent think tanks were identified among sectors where India and Russia can cooperate more vigorously in pursuance of common interests. While the interaction remained focused on bilateral issues, it occasionally strayed into regional security dynamics, especially Afghanistan and the broader Central Asian region. Also, the interaction in parts focused on how the bilateral cooperation between India and Russia could extend to multilateral engagements across multiple forums.

Event Date 
March 9, 2016
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