Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia this week for his 10th Indo-Russian summit was not only about talks with President Vladimir Putin and signing of bilateral documents but also about leaving a testament for his successors to nurture and strengthen friendship with Russia.

The message came during his address on Monday at a function in which an honorary doctorate was conferred on him at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russia’s prestigious diplomatic school.

Paying rich tributes to Russia for its support to India in times of trial, Dr. Singh asserted that “over the past six decades, no country has had closer relations with India and no country inspires more admiration, trust and confidence among the people of India than Russia.”

“India has benefited enormously from Russian support in every aspect of national development efforts — be it in the development of heavy industry, the power sector, our space programme or in meeting our defence needs,” he said.

“Russia has stood by India at moments of great international challenge when our own resources were limited and our friends were few,” the Prime Minister said.

“Russia offered us partnership in nuclear energy when the world still shunned nuclear commerce with us,” he recalled, adding that India “regards Russian friendship and support as something particularly precious” and “will never forget” it.

Friendship with Russia “enjoys complete political consensus and enormous public goodwill and support in India. I am convinced that while the strength and the intensity of our relationship will remain undiminished, it must also adapt itself to the changing times so that we can address the full range of current opportunities and challenges,” he said.

Describing defence ties with Russia as being “unmatched by any other relationship” and predicting that “Russia will remain an indispensable partner for our defence needs”, Dr. Singh called for increasing shift towards “technology transfer, joint ventures and co-development and co-production.”

“We also see Russia as a key partner for our energy security,” he said, mentioning “an ambitious long-term plan of cooperation in nuclear energy” approved three years ago and a programme for cooperation in oil and gas that was being drawn up.

The Prime Minister described India’s partnership with Russia as “one of the fundamental foundations of India’s foreign policy”.

“Our shared interests, our growing opportunities for cooperation, the history of our relationship, our abiding comfort with each other and the warmth and goodwill between our people ensure that our strategic partnership will continue to grow in strength and relevance in this changing world,” Dr. Singh added.