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From standing behind Russian President to standing staunchly with Putin, how PM Modi shaped India-Russia ties

In 2019, PM Modi warmly reminisced about the occasion, recalling it as his inaugural encounter with Putin. He reflected on how President Putin, despite his humble beginnings and recent entry into global affairs, extended profound respect, laying the foundation for an enduring friendship between them

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Updated on: July 09, 2024 15:09 IST
MODI RUSSIA VISIT
Image Source : X/@SIDHANT/@MODIARCHIVE Narendra Modi's first visit to Russia was on November 6, 2001, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat and accompanied Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Moscow (L) and PM Modi's visit to Vladivostok in 2019 (R).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reached Russia on his first bilateral visit after the surprising Lok Sabha election results last month. Before boarding the flight, PM Modi has called Russian President Vladimir Putin his dear "friend", while hailing the India-Russia ties. Notably, Indian Prime Ministers have always maintained the Neighbourhood First Policy, wherein they chose to visit neighbouring nations after forming the government. In fact, the same was maintained by PM Modi in 2014 and 2019, when he visited Sri Lanka, and Maldives. However, this time, he chose its closest ally, Russia, to make his first bilateral trip after clinching victory in the recently concluded elections. He will be in Moscow from July 8 to 9 at the invitation of Putin to hold the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit. Before heading to Moscow, PM Modi had a multilateral trip to Italy where he attended the G7 Summit along with other world leaders.  

How CM Modi developed close relations with Russia

Although the bilateral relationship has remained strong and stable over more than 75 years, it has spiralled in recent years, especially after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014. The roots of Modi-Putin relations started in the 2000's. The enduring bond between India and Russia has deep historical roots, notably fortified by Prime Minister Modi during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat. Modi's initial journey to Russia occurred on November 6, 2001, accompanying the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Moscow for the India-Russia Summit with Putin. Reflecting on this visit in 2019, PM Modi fondly recalled it as his first meeting with Putin. Despite his humble origins and relative newness on the international stage, President Putin treated him with profound respect, fostering a lasting friendship.

India Tv - Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and Indian Prime Minis

Image Source : APRussian President Vladimir Putin, left, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive for the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries on the sideline of the BRICS Summit in Xiamen

India Tv - Vladimir Putin, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo shaking hands prior

Image Source : APVladimir Putin, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo shaking hands prior to their talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand,

During this visit, CM Modi also signed a protocol for cooperation between Gujarat and the Russian province of Astrakhan, focusing on areas such as petrochemicals, hydrocarbons, trade, science and technology, education, tourism, and culture.

Subsequent years saw further strengthening of these ties through multiple visits. Notably, in 2006, Modi visited Astrakhan and renewed the protocol for another five years during discussions with Governor Alexander Zhilkin. In 2009, he delivered a keynote address in Russian at the 9th Russian Oil and Gas Week conference, impressing Russian businessmen. These interactions laid a robust foundation for the Gujarat-Russia partnership, particularly in the energy and petrochemical sectors, benefiting the entire nation today.

When Modi visited Russia downing an aura of India's PM

Modi visited Russia for the first time in 2015 after becoming PM where he attended the 7th BRICS Summit Ufa. In the same year, he visited Moscow. In 2017, he visited St Petersberg where he attended the 18th India–Russia annual summit. His last visit to Russia was in 2019 when he attended an economic conclave in the Far East city of Vladivostok.  The two leaders also met in person in September 2022 in Uzbekistan, at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization bloc.

India Tv - Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk during their me

Image Source : APRussian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk during their meeting ahead of the Eastern Economic Forum at the Russky Island, in Vladivostok, Russia.

How PM Modi stands staunchly with Putin

Russia has had strong ties with India since the Cold War, and New Delhi’s importance as a key trading partner for Moscow has grown since the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022. Under Modi’s leadership, India has avoided condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine while emphasizing the need for a peaceful settlement. PM Modi notably stayed away last week from the most recent summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in Kazakhstan.

India Tv -  Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their talks on the sid

Image Source : AP Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand.

Since Western sanctions blocked Russian oil exports after the start of the Ukraine war, India has become a key buyer of Russian oil. It now gets more than 40 per cent of its oil imports from Russia, according to analysts. India is also strongly dependent on Russia for military supplies, but with Moscow's supply line hit by the fighting in Ukraine, India has been diversifying its defence procurements, buying more from the US, Israel, France and Italy.

India has adopted a neutral stance, neither condemning nor condoning Russia’s war on Ukraine, and has called for negotiations to end the fighting. That in turn has bolstered Putin's efforts to counter what he calls the West’s domination of global affairs. Trade development also will figure strongly in the talks, particularly intentions to develop a maritime corridor between India’s major port of Chennai and Vladivostok, the gateway to Russia’s Far East.

India-Russia trade has seen a sharp increase, touching close to $65 billion in the 2023-24 financial year, due to strong energy cooperation, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra told reporters Friday. Imports from Russia touched $60 billion and exports from India $4 billion in the 2023-24 financial year, Kwatra said. India’s financial year runs from April to March.

He said India was trying to correct the trade imbalance with Russia by increasing its exports. India's top exports to Russia include drugs and pharmaceutical products, telecom instruments, iron and steel, marine products and machinery. Its top imports from Russia include crude oil and petroleum products, coal and coke, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, fertilizer, vegetable oil, gold and silver.

In fact, the India-Russia partnership has been among the steadiest of the major relationships in the world in the contemporary era with a shared commitment to a multipolar world and continues to expand beyond the traditional areas of military, nuclear and space cooperation. In the past two years, the bilateral trade has expanded significantly, far exceeding the target of $30bn set earlier for 2025. However, the pace of strengthing relations was not the same before the Modi government.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also Read: PM Modi gets rousing welcome at Moscow, greeted with 'Rangilo Maro Dholna' performance | VIDEO

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