India-Russia ties continue to grow despite ongoing friction between Washington and Moscow

The positive outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent telephonic talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin offers yet another indication that relations between India and Russia remain on firm-footing.

According to a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement, Prime Minister Modi and President Putin, in their telephonic talk, “exchanged ideas on how bilateral trade in agricultural goods, fertilisers and pharma products could be encouraged further.” They also discussed “global issues, including the state of the international energy and food markets.”

Highly placed sources say that, despite the ongoing friction between Washington and Moscow, both of which are friendly to New Delhi even in today’s changed world scenario, Indo-Russian trade ties have continued to grow. Despite the current Western sanctions against Russia in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, India has emerged as a major importer of the discounted Russian crude oil.

Personal ties between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin have been excellent. Putin visited India in December last year as part of the 21st Annual India-Russia Summit with Prime Minister Modi. Meanwhile, PM Modi too is expected to visit Russia this year. Their latest telephonic talk is the fourth one between the two since the beginning of this year. They had earlier spoken to each other in February and March 2022.

The latest telephonic discussion took place just a couple of days after PM Modi participated at the G7 outreach summit in Germany. One of the focal points of the summit was to contain Russia. It has, however, affected little India’s growing relations with Russia.

New Delhi seems to have been fully aware that Ukraine exports to the world more than 13 per cent of corn and over 5 per cent of wheat. Russia accounts for 18 per cent of the world’s wheat exports and 14 per cent of fertilisers. Russia is also a major player in the market for energy and metals. Due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the current Western sanctions against Russia, all such transactions are badly hit and the prices have been rising the world over. New Delhi has hence consistently suggested a course of ‘dialogue and diplomacy’ to end the Ukrainian crisis.

Pertinently, Russia has been a time-tested partner of India since the cold war years. Since the eighties, India has increasingly been diversifying its defence trade partners. Yet Russia continues to dominate the Indian defence inventory. Russia is the only nation that is still willing to give India critical technologies.

Besides, in the post-cold war era, Russia has extended its unwavering support to India for a permanent seat in a proposedly expanded UN Security Council. Moscow has also supported India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

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