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Russia and India are on the same page – expert on Modi’s visit to Moscow

The upcoming meeting between the leaders is sending a message of unity to the world, Nandan Unnikrishnan has said

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Moscow is significant as it will show the world that “India and Russia are still on the same page,” Nandan Unnikrishnan, the head of Eurasian Studies at Observer Research Foundation, India’s premier foreign policy think tank, told RT.

Modi is scheduled to visit Russia and meet with President Vladimir Putin in early July, according to media reports. On Tuesday, Yury Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy aide, confirmed that preparations are being made for the visit without specifying dates, which will be announced jointly by both sides.

Unnikrishnan said the development is notable as it will be the first bilateral visit for Modi after he was reelected for a third consecutive term. The two leaders will be meeting in person after two years; they last met during the September 2022 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Modi’s last visit to Russia was in 2019 when he attended the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

“The relationship with Russia is still very, very important for India, contrary to all rumors,” Unnikrishnan said. He added that “given the complexities of current geopolitics, bilateral ties are in a good place.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the 22nd Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Heads of State Council (SCO-HSC) Summit, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Modi to meet with Putin in Moscow – Kremlin

India has abstained from United Nations resolutions condemning Russia over the Ukraine conflict and has maintained robust trade and diplomatic ties with Moscow despite pressure from the West to distance itself from its traditional partner.

Last week, India refused to sign the final document that emerged at the Swiss-hosted conference on Ukraine advocating Kiev’s ‘peace formula’, which Moscow rejected. New Delhi insisted that “a resolution requires a sincere and practical engagement between the two parties to the conflict.”

Asked about New Delhi being targeted by Western countries for maintaining robust diplomatic and trade ties with Moscow, Unnikrishnan said India has always opposed unilateral sanctions and will not accept them. Last year, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar suggested that sanctions are “levers” that advanced economies use when it suits their interests, adding that much of the world does not agree with sanctions.

While the countries maintain a strong relationship, the meeting between the two leaders is also vital “to sort out any impediments,” Unnikrishnan noted. “There are issues of payments pending between India and Russia. There is the whole question of military-technical cooperation. There is also the question of widening economic ties and introducing new areas of cooperation.”

READ MORE: Russia fueling Indian economic growth – Jaishankar

Russia is India’s biggest supplier of arms and ammunition, and in 2023, became the largest supplier of oil to the country. In the financial year ending March 2024, trade between India and Russia stood at $65.7 billion, marking a 33% increase over the previous year. However, India’s exports to Russia have not seen any major upswing in recent years, creating a massive trade imbalance in Russia’s favor.

Earlier this year, Denis Alipov, Russia’s ambassador to India, said the two sides aim to diversify bilateral trade “and correct its imbalances, which are huge.”

June 26, 2024 at 11:20AM

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