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India has right to independent foreign policy – Putin

The Russian leader has praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for focusing on “national interests”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday lauded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for advancing the country economically while promoting a foreign policy plan that is driven by its “strategic interests.”

Speaking at a meeting with students in Kaliningrad on January 25 to mark ‘Russian Student Day’, the Russian leader noted that India is pursuing “an independent foreign policy, which is not easy in the modern world.” He added that “India has the right to do so,” and, under the leadership of Modi, it has effectively “exercised” this right. According to the Russian president, this has helped New Delhi’s partners build relationships that are predictable in both the short and long term. 

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“This is practically important: Can we rely on a country or its leadership, or will it make decisions tomorrow that don’t even align with its national interests? India does not engage in such “games” – I can confirm this. There is tough, nationally-oriented leadership in the country,” Putin said. 

He also highlighted the robust and growing ties between Russia and India, emphasizing the deep-rooted historical connections that neither country has forgotten. 

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on December 6, 2021.
Modi cannot be ‘intimidated, threatened or forced’ – Putin

“It’s well known to everyone, and in India, I know, it is remembered: The Soviet Union was the country that supported India’s struggle for independence and supported the initial stages of the formation of Indian statehood, economy, industry, and social sphere,” Putin noted. He also pointed out that, in recent years, Russia has made substantial investments in India, including a deal for the acquisition of an Indian oil refinery and supportive infrastructure by Russia’s Rosneft, totaling $23 billion.

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Hailing the economic policies of the Modi-led government, including its ‘Make in India’ initiative – which aims to boost local manufacturing across sectors – the Russian president acknowledged that the South Asian nation was developing at “astonishing rates.” The latest GDP growth projection for India in the 2023-24 financial year has recently been pegged at 7.3%. “This is also thanks to the leadership qualities of the current prime minister: It is under his leadership that India has achieved such growth rates,” Putin said.

The Russian president underscored the significance of the burgeoning Indian diaspora in Russia, as well as collaboration beyond economic spheres, including nuclear energy, scientific research and clean energy solutions, education, and the pharmaceutical industry. Putin also emphasized the importance of cultural exchange between the two countries, highlighting the popularity of Indian films in Russia and the growing interest in the Russian language in India. 


READ MORE: Here’s why India-Russia relations are moving towards a new trajectory

It is not the first time the Russian leader has openly praised India’s economic achievements and foreign policy decisions. Last month, he complimented Modi for standing up for his people despite pressure from global superpowers. “I can’t imagine Modi can be intimidated, threatened, or forced in favor of taking any action or decision against the national interest of India or its people. And there is such pressure, I know,” Putin said.

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