Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Moscow on Wednesday to a red-carpet welcome on his first bilateral visit to Russia during which both countries are set to seal a raft of deals in key sectors such as defence, nuclear energy and hydrocarbons to boost their robust and close partnership.
The Prime Minister was accorded a guard of honour at the Vnukova-II airport.
“Reached Moscow. A series of programmes await in this short but very important visit,” Mr. Modi tweeted in English and Russian.
Stepping up economic engagement and further expanding ties in strategic areas are likely to be the centrepiece of the 16th India-Russia annual summit talks between Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.
The two leaders are set to deliberate on various global issues such as the situation in Syria and tackling the threat of terrorism as well.
It is expected that a number of major pacts including to ramp up cooperation in defence and nuclear energy sectors will be finalised.
Russia has been India’s biggest supplier of arms though New Delhi has started buying more military hardware from the U.S. in the last few years.
Last week, India’s Defence Ministry’s top acquisition council had cleared the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems at an estimated cost of Rs. 40,000 crore and there may be an announcement of the deal on Thursday besides a few others. In the nuclear energy sector, India is expected to offer a site in Andhra Pradesh to set up units five and six of Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
The new plants will be in sync with broad principles of ‘Make in India’ initiative and a decision in this regard is likely to be finalised on Thursday.
Setting the tone for the visit, the Prime Minister, before his departure for Moscow, said Russia remained one of India’s “most valued” friends in the world and that he was “very optimistic” about outcomes of the talks with Mr. Putin. “Our relation with Russia is unique, covering almost every field of human endeavour,” Mr. Modi said.
The talks between the two countries, bound by “special and privileged strategic ties,” have been taking place alternately in Moscow and New Delhi since 2000.
Mix-up at ceremony
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was pulled back by a Russian official as he walked past the guard of honour accorded to him by a contingent of the Russian military while the Indian National Anthem was being played soon after his arrival here on Wednesday.
Mr. Modi started walking following a gesture by a Russian official when the military band was playing the anthem at the Vnukova II airport. It could be that the official asked the band to start.
Another official stopped Mr. Modi, following which the Prime Minister stepped back and stood at attention