To hold the 21st annual India-Russia summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to arrive in India on Monday. This will be the first in-person meeting between prime minister Narendra Modi and President Putin after their meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brasilia in November 2019.
The meeting will take place at Hyderabad House in New Delhi and is touted to be of great significance as this is President Putin’s only second work visit outside Russia since the onset of the pandemic last year. PM Modi will also host a dinner in honour of President Putin at Hyderabad House.
For the Modi government, Putin’s visit means more than just bolstering ties. Reportedly, India also needs Russia to keep up weapons supplies as it remains locked in its worst border standoff with China and New Delhi also wants more of a role in Afghanistan where Russia along with China and Pakistan remain key players following the Taliban’s takeover.
Delhi | Defence Minister Rajnath Singh receives Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu at Sushma Swaraj BhawanThe two leaders will take part in the first 2+2 ministerial dialogue between India and Russia today. pic.twitter.com/Kq8HTcJ2H1
— ANI (@ANI) December 6, 2021
What is Expected at the Summit?
-The leaders will discuss the bilateral relations and talk about ways to boost the strategic ties between the two countries. The annual summit is a time for both leaders to recalibrate the long-standing relationship between the nations.
- Before the summit, there will be an inaugural session of the India-Russia 2+2 dialogue, where Russia’s Defence and Foreign Ministers will hold talks with their Indian counterparts. This highlights the increasing mutuality of strategic interests between the two close partners. Reportedly, the dialogue is expected to focus on “political and defence issues of mutual interest". Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said last month that “the agenda for the dialogue will cover political and defence issues of mutual interest. The establishment of this new mechanism of two plus two dialogue is expected to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries.”
-External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will hold discussions with their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoigu.
- The countries are also expected to sign a few bilateral agreements in various areas, to further boost cooperation in key areas- defence, trade and investment, energy and technology.
- Reportedly, the two sides are also expected to focus on the situation in Afghanistan and the rising threat of terrorism including from groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
US Closely Watching
In November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with a delegation of US lawmakers, led by Senator John Cornyn. Cornyn was one of the two US senators who recently urged US President Joe Biden to waive sanctions against India over its purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defence system, saying such a punitive measure would endanger the growing cooperation between India and the US.
Russian arms purchases by US allies can trigger sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. While the U. S. has “urged all of our allies, all of our partners, to forgo transactions with Russia” involving the S-400 that may trigger sanctions, it hasn’t decided on a potential waiver for India, State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a November 23 briefing. Conversations are ongoing “in the context of a defense relationship that is meaningful to us, that is important both to the United States and India, including in the context of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Price said.