HomeIndiaIndia and the worldWith Eye On China, Modi Will Engage With Russia

With Eye On China, Modi Will Engage With Russia

With Eye On China, Modi Will Engage With Russia

With Eye On China, Modi Will Engage With Russia

NEW DELHI, (REUTERS) – The visit to Russia by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expected within days, could help dispel worries that New Delhi is getting too close to the West and further away from Moscow, ceding space to China, analysts said.

While the West has tried to isolate Putin, China, India and powers in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America have continued to build ties, with official figures showing rising trade with Russia.

“It will be a good opportunity for Moscow to project in the media the image of President Putin receiving a leader of a country like India in the context of the Washington summit,” said Aleksei Zakharov, a Moscow-based expert on India.

“India’s objective is to ensure that Russia is not in China’s corner and that, even if it does not explicitly support India, it maintains a permanent neutrality in the India-China territorial disputes.”

The leaders of Russia and India have held annual summits since 2000 but the last in-person meeting,  was in 2021, when Putin visited Delhi.

The dearth of Modi’s visits to Moscow had given “rise to speculation that there was some kind of drift in the Indo-Russia relationship,” said analyst Nandan Unnikrishnan, of the Observer Research Foundation think tank in New Delhi.

“So I think Modi’s visit will put an end to that kind of speculation,” he said. “And we don’t want to spoil our relationship with any party, whether it’s Russia, the United States, or anyone because of another relationship.”

India’s foreign ministry declined to comment.

The Kremlin said deepening trade and economic ties would be a key theme of Narendra Modi visit which was in the “final stage” of preparation. Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said regional security and global security issues always figured high on the agenda of such meetings.

India, which has stepped up purchases of Russian oil shunned by the West, is expected to seek a discount higher than the current rate of $3 to $3.5 a barrel during the visit, sources said.

It will also seek formal approval for a unit of Oil and Natural Gas Corp  to retain its stake of 20% in the Sakhalin 1 oil project in Russia’s far east.

India has also been keen to boost exports of pharmaceutical, machinery and other goods to Russia. Two-way trade jumped 33% to $65.7 billion in the last fiscal year that ended in March, with India’s imports accounting for $61.43 billion.

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