India and Russia Wednesday reaffirmed their strong friendship and discussed deepening trade and strategic ties during a visit to Moscow by Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Jaishankar said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that the two countries have “made progress” in trade, which now exceeds $50 billion.
“We believe that this is something whose potential is now only beginning to be visible,” he said.
India has emerged as one of Russia’s major economic partners as it has exponentially increased its imports of Russian crude oil, ignoring Western sanctions that were imposed in 2022 over the war in Ukraine.
India, which has taken a neutral stance on the Ukraine conflict, has maintained its ties with Moscow citing its decades-old friendship with its old ally.
Putin was quoted by Tass as saying at the meeting with Jaishankar that the trade between Russia and India is growing for the second year in a row, particularly due to crude oil and high technology areas.
Putin also invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Moscow.
Calling Russia India’s “valued and time-tested partner,” Jaishankar said ties between the two countries “are based on strategic convergence on geopolitical interests.”
The two countries also signed agreements related to the construction of future power-generating units at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant that is being built in southern India with Russian assistance.
During the visit, Jaishankar called India’s relations with Russia “the only constant in global politics.”
In a meeting with Indians living in Moscow on Tuesday, he said that “typically defense, nuclear and space are collaborations you only do with countries with whom you have a high degree of trust.”
Russia has long been the most important military supplier for India, and as international sanctions in response to the war began constricting Russian oil sales, India rapidly expanded its purchases to become one of the chief buyers of discounted Russian petroleum. In doing so, India has frustrated American efforts to isolate Russia since the Ukraine war began in 2022, providing a much-needed financial boost to Moscow’s coffers.
“Everything is in your hands,” Mr. Putin said, “and I can say that we are successful because of your direct support.”
Do these closer relations between India and Russia mean for the U.S. and its Western allies?
India in the recent time has shifted toward deepening its economic and security ties with the Western powers not at the expense of Russia, but Russia certainly has become somewhat less important to India and is very much aware of that.
Just to give you one data point – so in the Cold War, 90% of Indian weapons in dollar value came from Russia. Now it’s about 45%, but that’s down from 65% about seven years ago. Meanwhile, arms imports from the United States, but especially France, are up significantly.
This meeting comes at a critical juncture, a major power that the U.S. has been courting, has maintained friendly relations with Russia even after their full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. And India has propped up Russia’s economy by being a major consumer of their oil.
So what could closer relations between the two mean for the U.S. and its allies?
Despite the Biden administration’s efforts to make supporting Russia costly, American officials have avoided open criticism of India. Instead, President Biden and others have courted Mr. Modi, even welcoming him to a state dinner over the summer.
However, US and Canada have started showing their true colors when their Governments and law enforcement officials accused Indian officials of killing a Canadian Khalistani terrorist Nijjar and plotting the assassination of an American Khalistani Pannun.
US and Western countries are also trying to entrap India with their propaganda of Human Right, Minority rights, and sectarian violence to name a few. All these steps were taken to pressurized India to take anti-Russian steps. However, India has done exactly the opposite here.
Its a clear indication that India is sending strong signals to the US and its allies, that it has an independent policy framework and it is free to take decisions as per its convenience. Also, India has sent a strong signal that Russia is and will remain its most trusted ally, come what may. It is quite clear that India wont buckle under the pressure of Western Powers at any cost.