The just-concluded 12th Indo-Russian summit in Moscow has every reason to be called one of the most successful and productive bilateral meetings in recent years. Its outcome must be judged not by the number of documents signed but by the depth and range of understandings that emerged in the course of an unprecedented six hours of interaction Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, first with President Dmitry Medvedev and then with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The agreements covered all the key areas that underpin the “special and privileged” strategic partnership between the two countries — energy, defence, space, trade and investment, and working together on the international scene. While a formal agreement on Units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam nuclear power project was not signed, pending the resolution of the safety issue controversy in India, the sides moved forward with the project. They agreed on exceptional soft loan terms for the new reactors that will ease the financial burden for India at the time of a global economic slowdown. The talks in Moscow also firmed up prospects for India to expand its presence in Russian oil and gas through joint ventures with Gazprom and Novatek. Steel, diamonds, pharmaceuticals, and hydrocarbons have been identified as new thrust areas of bilateral cooperation. The establishment of a Science and Technology Centre with offices in Moscow and New Delhi opens the way to commercialising hundreds of successful research projects undertaken by the two countries over the past two decades.
Following Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation, India is looking forward to signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Customs Union, which will facilitate India's access to the vast market of the three former Soviet states. Bilateral defence cooperation, in the words of President Medvedev, has reached a “record high level.” The agreement on the military uses of the Russian GLONASS navigation system, the ongoing Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft project, the upcoming lease of a nuclear submarine, and the refitted Gorshkov aircraft carrier have reinforced Russia as an irreplaceable source of high-end technologies for India. The talks have produced a meeting of minds on burning international issues, including Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, terrorism, and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Russia has strongly supported India's bid to join the U.N. Security Council as a permanent member and to upgrade its membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The summit reasserted the special character of the Indo-Russian relationship, which Prime Minister Singh has aptly described as an “anchor of peace and stability” in a world of shifting global power equations.