The very basic thing India and Russia need to do is not to overwhelm themselves with the nostalgia of the Soviet era, India’s former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said. The world no longer resembles the 1960-1990 phase of the India-Soviet strategic partnership, he said.
“Rather than cling to the assumptions of a very different past, there should be an unsentimental reckoning of both the challenges and opportunities that could define India-Russia relations in the new millennium,” Saran wrote in an op-ed article in The Hindu.
“India needs to adjust to a new and more positive phase in Russia-China relations. It is also in India’s interest to see an improvement in relations between the US and Russia and Western Europe,” he adds.
India benefited from the combined pressure applied by Russia, the US, and Western Europe in overcoming Chinese opposition and obtaining the unprecedented waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008. In turn, it has benefited Russia in winning nuclear power plant projects in India.
“We got full support from the US, Russia and other major European countries in getting NSG waiver. It is also true that while the US did all heavy lifting, it is Russia, which is now actually helping India realize its nuclear energy potential. We have agreements with others also, including the most recent with Japan, but it is projects with Russian involvement, which are delivering on the ground,” Nandan Unnikrishnan, Vice-President, at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, told Sputnik.
In the defense sector, India and Russia need to further expand their cooperation and give thrust to joint weapons development opportunities. Russia has been a very dependable source of technology for India, but more transparency in how deals are finalized is required, Saran said.
“We should not have to go through another Admiral Gorshkov episode, which has left such a bitter taste.”
Russia still has an edge in the defense sector in India and has committed to ‘Make in India’ project as well, which could leapfrog bilateral ties to a whole-new level, Unnikrishnan said. In addition, the “energy corridor” and multi-billion infrastructure projects such as the International North-South Transport Corridor could give the much needed impetus to India-Russia trade.