India sees Russia as a long-term, reliable partner and at the coming bilateral summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin, both nations are set to add new areas of cooperation beyond the traditional ones, said Indian envoy in Russia D.B. Venkatesh Varma.
“Russian Far East is a priority for us, it’s a priority for Russia. We see commonalities in terms of economic cooperation and investment. You can expect some major announcements on how India-Russia relations are going to be diversified. And cooperation in the Russian Far East will be a major component of that diversification,” Mr. Varma told a small group of journalists from New Delhi at the Indian Embassy in Moscow.
Mr. Varma expressed the confidence that the Vladivostok summit would result in not only consolidating the traditional areas of cooperation - defence, nuclear, space and energy, but also add new pillars of cooperation, including inter-regional cooperation.
The Russian Far East comprises the eastern Russian territory between Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. Modi has been invited as the chief guest of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok by Mr. Putin on September 5.The bilateral summit will be held on the sidelines of the EEF.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar arrived in Moscow on Tuesday for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to finalise preparations for the summit meeting. He is scheduled to speak at the Valdai discussion club on Indo-Pacific and will hold discussions with Mr. Lavrov on Wednesday.
Mr. Varma said the special and privileged partnership between the two countries was poised for a “new leap forward.” He pointed to the “summer of intense activity” between the two countries.
Minister of Oil and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan will be in Moscow later this week, which officials said was for negotiations on expansion of energy cooperation, including long-term gas supplies.
Next week, Indian and Russia are likely to seal a military logistics support agreement, the Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS), official sources said. The pact will facilitate access to each others’ military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement, simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround.
India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA) with the U.S. in August 2016 and has since concluded several such agreements.
Some progress is also expected on an effort to conclude long-term spares and maintenance agreements for military hardware India has procured from Russia. There could also be an announcement on the manufacture of Ka-226T utility helicopters for the Indian military through a joint venture, the commercial discussions for which have been under way for sometime.
( The writer is in Moscow on the invitation of the Russian government for the MAKS-2019 air show )