21st India-Russia Summit: What's on Agenda as Putin Set to Arrive in New Delhi to Meet Modi
06:14 GMT 06.12.2021 (Updated: 10:40 GMT 19.07.2022)
Indian media outlets have cited government sources as describing 6 December as a "day of intense engagements – it will be a Russia Day".
Russian President Vladimir Putin will lead an official delegation, which includes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, on an official visit to the Indian capital New Delhi on Monday, where he will hold the 21st Annual India-Russia Summit
with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The summit, which will be held at Modi's residence, is set to kick off at 5:30 p.m.
President Vladimir Putin will arrive in New Delhi at around 3 p.m. (Indian Standard Time), while ministers Lavrov and Shoigu reached the capital on Sunday night.
Monday morning began with Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's talks with his Russian counterpart Shoigu under the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation framework.
A second meeting will be held between Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Later, the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries will participate in the inaugural "2+2" dialogue
at 11:30 a.m. and discuss critical bilateral, regional, and international issues, including the situation in the Asia-Pacific region.
President Putin said on Wednesday that he intends to discuss new "large-scale" initiatives with Prime Minister Modi on further developing Russian-Indian relations.
Nikolay Kudashev, the Russian ambassador to India, has stated that an extensive joint statement will be made after the meeting and will include practically all aspects of the countries' international cooperation, as well as focus on respect for the central role of the United Nations, commitment to multiplicity, preservation of strategic stability, and joint contribution to meeting novel challenges.
In addition to the statement, agreements in transport, science, space, military and technical cooperation, culture, and education are also expected, the diplomat stated. The ambassador also emphasised that Putin's visit signifies the return of face-to-face contacts, notwithstanding the threat of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Here are the key points of the bilateral meetings and agreements expected to be signed:
S-400 Model to be Handed Over
President Putin will hand over a model of the S-400 "Triumf" air missile defence system as a symbol of delivery of the systems to India, media reports suggest. The delivery of the first column under the $5.43 billion deal is to be completed by the end of this month.
On Friday, the Indian government said that it will not back down on its determination to receive Russia's air missile defence system despite the looming threat of penalties under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)
, a domestic American law passed in 2017 and meant to discourage other nations from entering into military deals with Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
3 December 2021, 16:26 GMT
The US has repeatedly threatened India with sanctions under CAATSA, with the State Department saying last week that no decision had been made on any waivers for India.
Narendra Modi's government cleared a $698 million agreement to manufacture Russian-designed AK-203 assault rifles in India on Wednesday. The two countries will sign the deal to produce 650,000 AK-203 assault rifles at an Indian facility in Uttar Pradesh during the summit. The AK-203 rifles will replace India's domestically produced INSAS rifles.
Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement
Media reports suggest that a key pact that could be signed is the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS). The deal will allow the armed forces of the two countries to access materials and support facilities at each other's bases.
"As a reflection of India's commitment to its strategic autonomy, the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) with Russia will serve to balance US influence", Aditya Pareek, a research analyst at the Takshashila Institution, an independent, networked think tank, told Sputnik.
Pareek underlined that there are concerns that Russia's primary geopolitical rival, the US, has been luring India into aligning with it by providing New Delhi with unprecedented data streams from US reconnaissance, imaging, search, and targeting apparatus and the support of its logistics infrastructure in recent years.
Military-Technical Cooperation for 2021-31
The two countries will also renew a framework for military-technical cooperation at the summit besides announcing a joint commission on technology and science.
Deliberations on Igla-S and Ka-226T
The two nations will hold a detailed discussion on the $1.5 billion Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) systems and the Ka-226T utility helicopter deals.
The VSHORAD will replace the ageing Russian-made Igla-M air defence systems with man-portable systems weighing less than 25 kilograms, with fire and forget capability.
Russia and India are expected to announce a significant agreement related to the energy sector, which will increase India's investments in Russian oil fields, a key pillar of Delhi's Act Far East Policy.
A consortium of three state-run oil companies -- ONGC Videsh Ltd, Indian Oil Corp Ltd, and Oil India Ltd -- has completed the technical evaluation of 30 of 52 license areas of Rosneft's Vostok project, which links some of Rosneft's vast resources with the Northern Sea Route.
In September, Russian and Indian energy ministers said that companies have been pushing for greater cooperation in the oil and gas sector beyond the $32 billion invested in joint projects.
Implementation of Credit Line for Russia's Far East
India announced a credit line for Russia's Far East region in 2019, and experts believe the 21st Indo-Russia summit is expected to provide an impetus to accelerating such joint initiatives.
Investment in the Far East is in India's interest as the two countries are discussing a new maritime route — a Vladivostok-Chennai maritime route, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, leading to India's increased presence in the South China Sea.
Once fully operational, the Vladivostok-Chennai maritime route would reduce the cargo transfer time between India and Russia to 24 days instead of 40 days via the European route.
"It would also offer a strategic alternative for Russia in terms of diversification of its energy and other exports from its Far East to India and East Asian countries", Uttam Sinha, who works at the Delhi-based Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, told Sputnik.
The two countries will discuss cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, including the transfer of technology, development of local production capacities, and promotion of supply chains for medical products.