HE Abdali

India-Russia Annual Summit - Major Takeaways

By Diplomatist Bureau

The 17th annual India-Russia Summit on October 15, 2016 in Goa produced a number of substantive results. Several defence agreements were signed at the Summit - a joint venture shareholders’ agreement on the Ka-226T helicopter, which is to be manufactured in India; an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on acquisition of the air defence system S-400; and an IGA on building of 4 naval frigates (in a modified Make in India format).

A Ministerial-level Military-Industrial Conference is to identify new projects and resolve issues on ongoing ones. An S&T Commission will work on developing and sharing cutting-edge technologies.

There was significant progress on the non-defence pillars of the India-Russia partnership. Agreements for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant are close to finalisation and there is a commitment for 6 more units.

India’s recent investments in the Russian hydrocarbons sector were highlighted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that in the past four months alone, Indian oil & gas companies had invested about $5.5 billion in Russia. A joint fund of $1 billion, equally shared by Russian sovereign fund RDIF and our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), is to promote investment in infrastructure and technology projects.

The agreement for Information Security cooperation should enable India to benefit from Russia’s globally acknowledged expertise in cyber technologies, which has received left-handed compliments in the US election campaign. The past year has seen a significant increase in University exchanges and joint S&T research projects funded by the two governments.

While the agreements and decisions at this Summit have surpassed expectations, implementation will have to be closely monitored. A huge boost to India-Russia economic partnership can also be delivered by the operationalisation of the International North South Transport Corridor, which would cut freight costs and transport times for goods between India and Russia by 40 percent.

Among the other highlights of the Summit was the announcement that a consortium led by Russian oil major Rosneft has concluded an agreement to acquire about 98 percent of Essar Oil, which is valued at INR 72,800 crore; Essar will get an additional INR 13,300 crore for its Vadinar Port. Rosneft will thus own 9 percent of India’s total refining output and 2,700 fuel outlets across the country.

The joint statement amplified it by saying that the two countries ‘stressed the need to deny safe havens to terrorists and the importance of countering the spread of terrorist ideology as well as radicalisation leading to terrorism, stopping recruitment, preventing travel of terrorists and foreign terrorist fighters’ in addition to strengthening border management.

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