In a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Russia next year. “We will be glad to see our friend, Mr Prime Minister Modi in Russia,” Putin told Jaishankar.
“We will be able to discuss all current issues, talk about the outlook for the development of Russian-Indian relations. We have a very large amount of work to do,” the Russian President further said. He asked the Indian external affairs minister to pass his “best wishes” to PM Modi along with the invitation.
Putin also mentioned that India will be very busy with internal affairs next year due to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, according to TASS news agency. Russia is also bracing for a presidential election, in which Putin is all but set to return as the leader.
The two leaders share cordial relations and Putin has expressed his appreciation of PM Modi several times in the past. Earlier this month, Putin said that he was “surprised” by PM Modi’s tough stance on defending the national security interests of India and he “cannot imagine that Modi could be frightened” to take any step contrary to the interests of India and its people.
Putin’s praise for PM Modi
“I want to say that relations between Russia and India are developing progressively along all trajectories, and the main guarantor of this is the policy pursued by the prime minister, Mr Modi,” the Russian leader said at the “Russia Calling!” Forum on December 7.
Speaking on international pressure, Putin said that he “cannot imagine that Modi could be frightened, intimidated or forced to take any actions, steps, decisions that would be at variance with the national interests of India and the Indian people”. “I just look at what is happening from the outside, and sometimes, frankly speaking, I am even surprised at his tough stance on defending the national interests of the Indian state,” he noted.
Earlier in October, Putin called PM Modi “a very wise man” under whom New Delhi has been making great strides in development, during a keynote address in Sochi. “We (Russia) share very good political relations with Prime Minister Modi, he is a very wise man. And India has been making very great strides in development under his leadership. This fully meets the interest of both India and Russia to work on this agenda,” Putin said.
Jaishankar said that he was confident that Prime Minister Modi and President Putin will meet for an annual summit next year, noting that both leaders have remained in frequent contact throughout this year. The summit between the prime minister of India and the Russian president is the highest institutional dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between the two sides.
The last India-Russia annual summit was held in December 2021 during Putin’s visit to New Delhi. So far, 21 annual summits have taken place alternatively in India and Russia. The last summit took place in New Delhi in December 2021. Putin also said that the trade turnover between Russia and India is growing, particularly on account of crude oil and high technology areas.
“Our trade turnover is growing, for the second year in a row at the same time and at a steady pace. The growth rate this year is even higher than in the last year,” he said. After the Ukraine war broke out, PM Modi could not go to Moscow, while Putin was unable to attend the G20 Summit this year due to international arrest warrants against him.
The ties between India and Russia remained strong notwithstanding Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
Jaishankar’s visit to Russia
Earlier today, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov announced that the Russian President would receive Jaishankar after his meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Peskov noted that the top Indian diplomat had already met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, saying that India is an important partner of Russia.
Notably, Jaishankar held a crucial meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov earlier on Wednesday, where the latter expressed Moscow’s willingness to support India’s initiative to produce military products under its flagship ‘Made in India’ programme. Lavrov said that Russia is ready to launch the production of defense items as part of the initiative.
The two leaders also underlined several steps to expand cooperation between the countries, including the launch of the North-South International Transport Corridor and the Chennai- Vladivostok route. “Our cooperation is of strategic nature, strengthening it corresponds to the national interests of states, the interests of Security in the Eurasian continent,” the Russian minister said in a press briefing after the meet.
“Our relationship is very long and very good and it’s good to see they are moving consistently in the present moment. We have a reliable partnership and it’s been confirmed by our bilateral relations based on the agreements by Prime Minister Modi and President Putin,” Lavrov said.
“We have had a very good session of talks and today, what really came out was India-Russia relationship remains very steady, very strong. They are based on strategic convergence on geopolitical interests and because they are mutually beneficial,” Jaishankar said at the press briefing with Lavrov.
The two leaders also spoke about international issues like the conflict in Ukraine, Gaza, the Indo-Pacific, ASEAN, Afghanistan and UN-related matters. Jaishankar noted that trade between India and Russia is at an all-time high, crossing $50 billion last year.
(with inputs from PTI)