Russia expressed unhappiness with the stalemate in some of its major projects during a Ministerial meeting that precedes next month’s annual summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
India acknowledged the delays inherent in a democracy but said “due process of law” should take care of concerns regarding Russian investments in the telecom and steel sectors. Both sides also engaged in talks on the applicability of the nuclear liability law on units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam.
While Russia grumbled about pending projects at a joint press conference addressed by the co-chairs of the India-Russia inter-governmental committee (IRIGC) on trade and economics, India pointed to delays in commissioning aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov at the IRIGC on defence held a few days back.
The two interactive mechanisms form the backbone of the consultations leading up to the summit during which the political principals attempt a closure on some of the issues. As was the case with the IRIGC meeting on defence, the co-chairs of the IRIGC on trade and economics — Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna — quarantined their differences to consider future cooperation proposals such as the Indian interest in Russian oil and gas fields.
Speaking at the press conference, the combative Mr. Rogozin – once banned from contesting elections in Russia for ultra-nationalism and who on Sunday offered to be spat on the face if someone proved that Russia had created trouble for India in the neighbourhood – explained why Moscow was cut up with India on the investment front. “We should never reconsider the rules of the game once the game has begun, we should hold the rules till the game is over and it is important to fulfil the agreements achieved,” he said.
Mr. Rogozin’s oblique observations indicate three stalled projects — Sistema Telecom’s investments that have been jeopardised because of the 2G court order cancelling all allotments, Russian steel company Severstal getting embroiled in arbitration proceedings with its Indian joint venture partner and Moscow’s aversion to application of the nuclear liability law to units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam.
Mr. Rogozin had flagged all three issues during his July acquaintance visit to the country and at the press conference he wanted the Indian government to be proactive.
“Governments should demonstratively help their business representatives to solve the issues that emerge due to contact with bureaucracy because business is indivisible from the state. The governments of India and Russia should work to support the business people,” he said.
In reply, Mr. Krishna urged the businesses community not to be intimidated by certain obstacles “which do come up in a democratic society where there is the due process of law and where anyone can take a matter to a court of law and delay implementation of a particular project.”
Mr. Krishna also invited Russian investments for a number of projects, including the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor and exchanged views on joint research in cutting edge technologies.