Economic ties between India and Russia continue to deepen.
Written by Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher
Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “independent foreign policy” during a plenary session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Moscow on October 27. The Russian president said that Modi put the needs of India’s citizens above the western sanctions imposed on Moscow.
“He is one of those people who is capable of carrying out an independent foreign policy which serves the interests of its people. Despite all attempts to impose some kind of restrictions on India, he is like an ice-breaker and continues moving in the direction which the Indian state needs,” Putin said, adding that the Indian leader is a “patriot”.
The Russian president stressed the historical ties between New Delhi and Moscow, saying, “India has come a long way from a British colony to an independent country. We have a special relationship with India. It has been underpinned by a close ally relationship of many decades.”
“[Modi’s] idea of ‘Make in India’ matters both economic wise and in ethics. The future belongs to India. It can be proud of the fact that it is the largest democracy in the world,” Putin continued.
Putin’s comments come as India’s bilateral trade with Russia has soared to an all-time high of $18,229.03 million in just five months (April-August) of this financial year (2022-23). In contrast, according to the Indian Department of Commerce, the total annual bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $13,124.68 million in 2021-22, and $8,141.26 million in 2020-21.
Russia is now India’s seventh biggest trading partner, a huge increase from 25th position it held last year, and even more impressive as its in spite of Western sanctions. The Indian Express reported that in the past, there have been only two occasions when bilateral trade between the two countries crossed the $10 billion mark – in 2017-18 ($10,686.85 million) and 2019-20 ($10,110.68 million).
An analysis of the data shows that Russia’s share in India’s total trade has increased to 3.54%, up from 1.27% in 2021-22. While Russia’s share in India’s total trade was 2.1% in 1997-98, it has hovered below 2% for the last 25 years.
Modi’s government has been lambasted by the West since their campaign of sanctions against Russia began as New Delhi refuses to participate in it. India has a longstanding friendship with Russia that transcends the current world order and will not so easily cut relations. None-the-less, even if New Delhi wanted to cut ties, Indian defence establishment sources, cited by The Print, said India cannot afford to cut relations with Russia – even if ties with the US are increasing.
According to the publication, the sources said Russia helps India in its nuclear and space programs. The sources said the entire military nuclear program was heavily dependent on Russian support, right from the designing phase to actual implementation.
In addition to this, three more nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are currently being constructed in India besides the Arihant, which is already operational. India is also planning to build six nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), all of which will depend on Russian help. The US refused to lease a nuclear submarine to India, and Russia was once again happy to fill the void by striking a deal to lease an SSN.
“No other country can offer India the kind of assistance that Russia offers,” a source told The Print, adding that Russian help was significant in the Indian space program.
India and Russia support a multipolar system, albeit from different perspectives. Although New Delhi finds its current relationship with Moscow as one to counterbalance Chinese dominance in Central and South Asia, Moscow views its relationship with New Delhi as limiting Washington’s influence in the region.
As Russia has a long history of supporting the Indian military, contrary to the US’ long history of supporting India’s main rival, Pakistan, breaking this relationship is a difficult endeavour for Washington. Although US-Indian mutual interests converge on wanting to limit Chinese influence, it does not affect New Delhi’s relationship with Moscow despite Washington’s many attempts.
None-the-less, although Moscow has been pushed into tightening relations with Beijing following Washington’s unrelenting aggression and pressure, Russia likely welcomes India’s political and economic initiatives in Eurasia to dilute Chinese dominance in the region, as well as any American attempts to encroach on it.
With India and Russia having many mutual interests, it is of little surprise that Putin hailed Modi as a patriot as he did not abandon relations with Moscow or impose sanctions despite US pressure. Many other countries, particularly in Europe, have many mutual interests with Russia, especially in the energy sector, but they, unlike India, instead decided to destroy their economies’ and citizens’ quality-of-life by capitulating to American demands. Instead of destroying relations with Moscow, Modi instead accelerated trade and economic ties.
The Modi!!! Is he related to Yoda?
India would be one of the strongest if they worked on their internal issues like making peace between Hindus and muslims, and if they fixed ties with China.
The Muslims took over Pakistan and I wonder how many Christians and Hindus there are over there? Muslims moved to Pakistan at the time of partition when Pakistan was annexed by the Muslims.
Make India greater than Great Britain has ever been!
Power to the Russian Motherland!