“Even if India’s options have increased, Russia remains our most important defence partner”, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, speaking about some of the most important consequences of President Putin’s visit to New Delhi, Reuters reports on December 11. At this very moment, Reuters also reports, “Kremlin grapples with a sliding oil price and an economy that has been undermined by Western sanctions over its annexation of Crimea last spring and support for an uprising in eastern Ukraine”[1]. In such a situation, Russia is naturally searching for solutions potentially able to facilitate two major strategic goals: making some extra profits in order to compensate losses generated by both sanctions and the evolution of oil price, and secondly building international partnerships in order to annihilate potential isolation on the world arena. India is perfectly fit for reaching both goals, we think.

Major defense deals

The visit led to several important defense agreements and major contracts. For example, “India agreed to assemble 400 Russian multi-role helicopters a year”, and Reuters estimate that “the Ka-226T twin-engined helicopter deal is important for Modi, who wants to upgrade a military that relies on outdated Soviet equipment and build India’s defence production capacity”. The open source we are quoting here also reported that “on defence, the two sides will seek to move ahead with long-delayed projects to develop a joint fifth-generation fighter jet and a multi-role transport aircraft, in addition to the chopper deal”[2]. The Times of India reports that “one of the agreements signed will facilitate training of Indian armed forces personnel in the military establishment of Russia's defence ministry”, and that “Modi also proposed that Russia locate manufacturing facilities in India for spares and components for Russian defence equipment”[3].

Huge economic contracts

At the end of the top level talks, “the two countries signed as many as 20 agreements — seven inter-governmental and 13 commercial – including a strategic vision for cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy. Another agreement was signed for partnership in oil and natural gas”, The Times of India also reports. The same source says Russia “will build 10 more nuclear reactors in India apart from four at Kudankulan”  and lists more than a dozen major contracts and MoU (Memoranda of Understanding). Indian media strongly underlines that “a joint statement titled ‘Druzhba-Dosti’ said the two countries will study the possibilities of building a hydrocarbon pipeline system, connecting the Russian Federation with India. Modi said cooperation between the two nations in the hydrocarbon sector had been disappointing until now and that they will pursue an ambitious agenda for partnership in oil and natural gas”, and that “Putin also said Russia is ready to cooperate in peaceful space exploration, specifically in the development of close-orbit satellites and use of the GLONASS satellite navigation system”[4]. Reuters estimates the total value of contracts already signed is immense, reporting on “billions of dollars of deals”[5].

Quite clearly, the newly enhanced Russian-Indian partnership might have significant consequences for the positive evolution of some core elements of the national power of both countries. But, frankly speaking, it might also generate severe problems as well, both for Moscow and New Delhi. We estimate that a too strong Indian-Russian relationship might seriously irritate China. And we also think that some of the Western countries, including the U.S., might be strongly upset by the way in which Indian Prime Minister Modi helped Russian President Vladimir Putin to circumvent the very logic of international sanctions connected to the annexation of Crimea and the crisis in Eastern Ukraine.


[1] Douglas BUSVINE, Denis DYOMKIN, “Modi to Putin: Russia to stay India’s top defence partner”, Reuters, December 11, 2014, at the Internet address

[2] Ibidem

[3] “India, Russia deals to boost ‘Make in India’ drive”, The Times of India, December 11, 2014, at the Internet address

[4] Ibidem

[5] Douglas BUSVINE, Denis DYOMKIN, op. cit.

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