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Putin comes calling to India

Jan 25, 2007 08:03 AM IST India India

New Delhi: Devoid of any drama, but high on symbolism, Vladimir Putin is the first Russian president to be chief guest at the Republic Day parade in India.

Politically and strategically, India is re-affirming the importance of a tried and tested friend.

Says Professor of Russian Studies, JNU, Ajay Patnaik, "Russia holds a special place for India due to geography, common threat perception and a common vision for an international system which is just democratic."

But even solid friendships need doses of energy, so while Putin will promise to supply additional nuclear reactors, India will also want his go ahead to invest in the Sakhalin 3 Gas Field - a major oil deal.

Even an agreement on Thursday to collaborate on the Fifth Generation Stealth Fighter could easily stand out among the 10 odd agreements expected in the fields of energy, defence, space, IT and culture.

However, as yet there has been been no agreement on allowing Indian businessmen into Russia.

Says Indian Ambassador to Russia, Kanwal Sibal, "This is a false issue created on the Russian side. They have complicated it unnecessarily. We will continue to press our case."

Not all the gains are immediate or tangible. For India, a solid equation with Russia helps deflect criticism at home of a pro-US tilt. While Russia expects India to play a role in shaping a new, well balanced and multipolar world.