Home / News / India /  Putin visit: India, Russia strike trade, arms deals
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India and Russia on Monday concluded 28 pacts including one for manufacturing AK-203 rifles for the Indian Army and another on responding to cyberattacks on banks, on the margins of a summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The deal to manufacture more than 600,000 AK-203 rifles is worth more than 5,000 crore. Both countries also extended their military technical cooperation pact by another 10 years. The pact to respond to cyberattacks was signed by the Reserve Bank of India and the Bank of Russia, the Indian foreign ministry said.

Putin, who arrived on Monday on a brief visit to India for the 21st India-Russia Summit, described India as a “great power, a friendly nation and a time-tested friend".

Modi on his part said that “there is no change in the pace of relations between India and Russia despite the covid-19 pandemic" and that the “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership" between the two was getting stronger.

“Your visit is a reflection of your commitment to ties with India," Modi said of Putin’s visit, only the second outside of Moscow since the pandemic broke out last year. The first was to Geneva for the summit with US President Joe Biden in June this year.

Ties between India and Russia have been buffeted by New Delhi’s warming ties with the US and Moscow growing closer to China on the back on sanctions imposed by Washington and its allies for the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and other issues.

Since 2018, the two countries have been making fresh efforts to re-engage and refashion ties, with Modi attending an informal summit with Putin in the Russian city of Sochi.

Briefing reporters on the talks between the two leaders, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the 28 pacts spanned military, trade, energy and geological exploration.

“Both sides are looking forward to the continued increase in the trade and investment trajectory," Shringla said. Cooperation in inland waterways, civilian ship building, fertilizers and coking coal were some of the areas being looked at.

“Essentially, what we are looking at is long-term arrangements whereby the essential commodities that we need from Russia are available on some sort of arrangement that could be to our mutual benefit," Shringla said. India has invited Russian companies to take advantage of the production linked incentive schemes, Shringla said, adding that the Russian side has expressed interest in steel.

The two countries have a target of $30 billion in trade and $50 billion in investment by 2025.

Despite the closeness, differences remain in areas like the concept of Indo-Pacific. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov expressed concern, telling reporters that under the aegis of the Indo-Pacific, the US and others were creating exclusive blocs including the trilateral Australia-UK-US pact announced in September. On its part, India endorses the Indo-Pacific concept and is part of the Quad grouping along with the US, Japan and Australia.

India’s concerns over China and Russia’s ties with Beijing were in evidence when defence minister Rajnath Singh spoke of “unprovoked aggression on our northern border" during the first ever India-Russia foreign and defence ministers’ meeting that preceded the Modi-Putin summit.

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