India, Russia ink pacts on construction of future power units of Kudankulam nuclear plant

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar holds "comprehensive and productive" meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov on the bilateral economic cooperation

December 27, 2023 02:15 am | Updated 07:24 am IST - Moscow:

File picture of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. File

File picture of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. File | Photo Credit: PTI

In a major boost to their time-tested partnership, India and Russia on Tuesday signed some "very important" agreements related to the construction of the future power-generating units of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who is on a five-day visit to Russia, made the announcement after his "comprehensive and productive" meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov on the bilateral economic cooperation during which they witnessed signing of agreements on nuclear power and in areas of medicines, pharmaceutical substances and medical devices.

"Today, in my presence and that of Deputy Prime Minister Manturov, we signed some very important agreements pertaining to the future units of the Kudankulam nuclear project," he said addressing the Indian diaspora here.

The Kudankulam nuclear power plant, India's largest, is being built in Tamil Nadu with the technical assistance of Russia. The construction began in March 2002. Since February 2016, the first power unit of the Kudankulam NPP has been steadily operating at its design capacity of 1,000 MW. The plant is expected to start operating at full capacity in 2027, according to Russian state media.

Also Read | Russia offers advanced nuclear fuel to extend Kudankulam reactor cycle from 18 months to 2 years

During the meeting, Mr. Jaishankar noted the significant progress in trade, finance, connectivity, energy, civil aviation and nuclear domains.

"Appreciated the greater focus on exploring new opportunities. Discussed making our cooperation more balanced and sustainable in different dimensions," he said in a post on X.

Special partner

In his address to the Indian community, Mr. Jaishankar described Russia as a "special partner" in a few areas such as defence, nuclear power and space.

"Collaborations are done in areas of defence, space and nuclear [energy] with countries with which you have a high degree of trust," he added.

Mr. Jaishankar also said that the two sides agreed that their negotiating teams would meet by the end of January to start in-person negotiations on the free trade agreement between India and the Eurasian Economic Zone.

"Today, when I met the Deputy Prime Minister we agreed that early next year, our negotiating teams will meet. So I expect by the end of January, hopefully, that the in-person negotiations will start," he said, responding to questions at the community event.

"Finalised the programme of cooperation on Russian Far East. Expect to hold early meeting of EaEU-India FTA negotiators. Will jointly organise connectivity events across land and maritime corridors," he later posted on X.

"If one looks at our economy, influence, and impact on the world today, it is very different from 10 years ago and will be different 10 years later. We went on from the 10th largest economy a decade ago, to be the 5th largest now and will hopefully be the 3rd largest and beyond that, later,” Mr. Jaishankar said.

Responding to a question on the payment problem between Russia and India, the Minister said that “in an unusual situation, we were trying to find ways by which banks deal with each other.”

"People are unclear what is happening...If you don't have a full picture or you don't have confidence people hold back. Those who have banking relationships, do business with Russia can educate people about good banks, safe routes," he said.

"We have been trying to find a solution regarding the payment problem," he said.

On Wednesday, the Indian Foreign Minister will meet his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to discuss bilateral, multilateral, and international issues.

"I'm very sure that this relationship will only grow from strength to strength. And I think even in the last few years, I see, frankly, for example, a greater Russian focus on Asia. I think that is partly one reason why our trade has grown so much in the last two years," he added.

Steady collaboration

He appreciated the Indian community's contribution to building a strong and steady collaboration between India and Russia.

"The Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership reflects experiences and sentiments of last 75 years. Urged the community to contribute to deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation. Their role in promoting close ties between our civil societies is invaluable. An Atmanirbhar Bharat will deepen ties with Russia in a multipolar world," he later posted on X.

Also Read | What to know about India’s ties with Russia

Mr. Jaishankar also visited the Russian Industry and Trade exhibition with Mr. Manturov.

"An interesting exposition on Russia’s contemporary capabilities. Holds promise for greater collaboration between our two countries," he said.

The ties between India and Russia remained strong notwithstanding Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.

India's import of Russian crude oil has gone up significantly despite increasing disquiet over it in many Western countries.

"The time tested India-Russia partnership has remained stable and resilient and continues to be characterised by the spirit of the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release ahead of Mr. Jaishankar's visit.

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