Russia and India: In the common interest no matter what

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon visit Russia. The upcoming trip will be Modi's first to the country since 2019 and comes less than a month after he was re-elected as prime minister.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon visit Russia. The upcoming trip will be Modi’s first to the country since 2019 and comes less than a month after he was re-elected as prime minister during a weekslong vote. Modi last met Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan in 2022. The visit is also notable because Modi recently won a fairly convincing victory in India’s regular elections, as the author of these lines previously wrote for Modern Diplomacy. The sides note that there are no off-limits topics for Narendra Modi’s upcoming talks with Vladimir Putin. We can expect a deepening of economic, political, and military-technical ties. Discussions on expanding cooperation in Central Asia and Afghanistan will also be an important topic.

India’s ties with Russia date back to the Cold War and remain strong despite repeated sanctions against Moscow by Western governments. New Delhi repeatedly refrained from voting to condemn Russia at the UN and avoided public criticism of Moscow. At the same time, India’s ties with the United States have grown stronger amid general concerns about China’s assertiveness. Modi met with US President Joe Biden during a state visit to Washington in 2023, which further strengthened their partnership in defense, trade, and technology. India is a member with the United States, Japan, and Australia, of

the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad. But the biggest democracy also takes place at the table of two Moscow-friendly groupings – the SCO and the BRICS, which includes Russia and China.

Of particular importance to the ties is the historical independence of Russia and India in foreign policy, which is a rarity in the current transit and a system of international relations that is bursting at the seams. The loss of independence in the foreign policy of one of the countries may be the least likely cause of a decline in trust. However, given the current development paths of the two countries, this is unlikely to happen shortly. We are dealing with quite powerful players in international affairs, and they cannot be allowed to become dependent on today’s superpowers. Moreover, regardless of the scenarios and scale of the U.S.-China confrontation, Russian-Indian ties could become a force stabilizing Eurasia and, potentially, the international system as a whole.

Russian-Indian contacts go back to the 17th century, and over the years we have seen these relations expand. The Soviet Union and India established diplomatic relations in 1947. After the dissolution of the USSR, more than 250 bilateral treaties were signed between the new Russia and India, including the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, signed on 28 January 1993, and the cornerstone of the partnership is the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia, signed during President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to India in October 2000. Bilateral engagement can be described as a strategic partnership, and observers later began to use this term privileged to the situation.

Regardless of the scenarios and scale of the U.S.-China confrontation, Russian-Indian ties can become a force stabilizing Eurasia and, potentially, the system of international relations as a whole. As a result, the relationship between these actors is strong and based on mutual natural interest and cooperation. A partnership is built on a solid and equal basis. In such circumstances, no one feels left out and cooperation is not perceived as a burden. Cooperation usually has an artificial rather than a natural aspect. Proponents of the theory of international relations, and structural realism, attach great importance to these concepts and factors. In the context of the modern world, partnership is self-sufficient. If we were to consider two different nations with different peoples, cultures, political systems, and histories, under normal circumstances they would still want to cooperate in terms of the structure of international relations. This is the essence of structural design. A large number of global players often have to create fake social constructs that serve as a basis for increasing interaction, forming strategic cooperation, and forging close relationships. Moscow and New Delhi, on the other hand, do not need to do this, as their relationship is underpinned by a certain degree of intimacy and chemistry between the leaders.

According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, in 2023-2024 India exported about $3.14 billion worth of goods to Russia. In 2023-24, India exported about $3.14 billion of goods to Russia, according to the Indian Brand Equity Fund (IBEF). Some main articles include Pharmaceuticals: Drugs and biological products (US$416 million) and drugs and intermediates (US$128 million), the main exports. Chemicals: Chemical and related residues (US$ 182 million) and organic chemicals (US$ 226.73 million). Cast Iron and Steel: Makes a significant contribution with exports worth $159 million. USD. Agricultural products: coffee, tea, mate, and spices totaled $58.4 million.

Thus, it is obvious that relations between the two countries are actively developing positively. Despite pressures from powerful Western countries, India is pursuing an independent policy and will not limit relations with Moscow. Also, the deepening of Russia-China relations in all spheres is not an obstacle to the development of relations between PM Modi and President Putin. Especially since the development of India-Russia relations is in the interest of both countries. Russia and India have historically developed allied and friendly relations. There have never been any problems, thorny issues, or unresolved disputes between the two countries. The Soviet Union was one of the few countries that helped India in the process of the anti-colonial struggle against Great Britain. Later, Moscow supported Delhi in wars against Pakistan, which had the support of the US and the West. At the present stage, the relations are also very successful.

Georgi Asatrian
Georgi Asatrian
Georgi Asatryan, associate professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University and Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.