Russia and India in BRICS
by Olivia Kroth
This friendship is not new. The Russian and Indian people have been cultivating their good relations since the 1950s. India and the Soviet Union cooperated in the areas of politics, economy, defence, nuclear energy and space exploration. Indo-Russian cooperation has been further intensified under President Vladimir Putin. During his last visit to India in December 21014, 20 bilateral treaties worth 100 billion dollars were signed. In January 2015, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu flew to India to coordinate further military projects. Russia and India want to found a new development bank and monetary reserve fund for BRICS together with the other member states Brazil, China and South Africa.
Since the first meeting of BRICS in Yekaterinburg, in 2009, the association has developed fast and shall be turned into a “full-fledged cooperation mechanism in major issues of global economy and politics”, when the Russian Federation assumes the function of BRICS presidency, in April 2015 (TASS, 13.01.2015).
The Russian President sees India as a “reliable and time-tested partner”, he told the Indian Information Agency before his last trip to India. President Vladimir Putin’s interview was also published on his site KREMLIN.RU. He got acquainted with India’s current Prime Minister Narenda Modi during the BRICS Summit in Brazil, in July 2014. “India has traditionally regarded Russia, and the USSR in the past, as a reliable friend of all times”, Narenda Modi said. He added that “the steadfast support of the people of Russia for India has been there even at difficult moments in our history. It has been a pillar of strength for India’s development, security and international relations” (RUSSIA & INDIA REPORT, 12.12.2014).
During President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi, 290 deals were made withing 24 hours, giving Russian-Indian relations a boost worth 100 billion dollars. All of them are long-term deals, for example the construction of 12 new nuclear reactors for India by Russian specialists, in addition to the already existing Kudankulam plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The cost of 40 billion dollars for these 12 new nuclear plants in India wiill be spaced out over two decades (RUSSIA TODAY, 28.01.2015).
Cooperation in the military field
India will produce Russian helicopters in its own factories to reduce the costs. In December 2014, Russia and India signed military contracts which Premier Narenda Modi commented: “Russia has been India’s foremost defence partner through the decades. President Putin and I discussed a broad range of new defence projects. We also discussed how to align our defence relations to India’s own priorities, including the project Made in India” (RUSSIA TODAY, 12.12.2014).
On the Russian side, President Vladimir Putin explained: “The high level of bilateral cooperation and trust allows us to start a gradual transition from the traditional producer-consumer model to joint development and production of advanced weapons systems. We already have examples of such effective cooperation, the production of high-precision up-to-date BrahMos missiles and creation of a multi-functional fifth-generation fighter aircraft” (RUSSIA & INDIA REPORT, 10.12.2014). Russia’s Sukhoi company is conducting negotiations on the fifth-generation fighter development through the Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport with India.
In January 2015, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu visited India to follow up on the new contracts. He participated in the 14th meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Technical Cooperation. Sergey Shoigy also met India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar (RUSSIA & INDIA REPORT, 24.01.2015). Another example of Russian-Indian military cooperation are the joint exercises INDRA. They are held bi-annually, beginning in 2003, involving live firing drills, air defence and submarine operations.
Cooperation in the energy sector
Indo-Russian energy cooperation has its roots in Soviet days when Russian specialists established the hydrocarbon sector in India. Later, ONGC Videsh from India participated in Russia’s Sakhalin – 1 project. ONGC Videsh has so far invested more than eight billion dollars in Russia. Founded in 1956, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation ONGC is a multi-national oil and gas company with headquarters in Dehradun, India. It produces 77 percent of India’s crude oil and 81 percent of its natural gas. The Sakhalin – 1 project is a Russian consortium to produce oil and gas on Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East. Its main three fields are Chayvo, Odoptu and Arkutun-Dagi. The Sakhalin – 1 project supplies about one million tons of oil to India each year.
Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister Yuri Sentyurin specified that Russia plans “to capture 25 to 30 percent of the LNG market in the Asia-Pacific region” through plans “to increase capacity in the Far North (Yamal Peninsula) and the Far East (Sakhalin, Vladivostok)”. He added that leading Russian companies were interested in forming joint venture projects with India, especially Rosneft, Gazprom Neft and Zarubezhneft (RUSSIA & INDIA REPORT, 06.11.2014).
Cooperation in technologies and trade
Last but not least, India and Russia cooperate in technologies and trade. President Vladimir Putin expressed his hope that this potential could be brought further on the way: “A particular emphasis should be made on the development of high-technology areas of cooperation, aircraft and automobile production, pharmaceuticals industry, chemical industry, information technologies and nanotechnologies.” Bilateral trade is encouraged in the national currencies of ruble and rupee. An International North-South Corridor is to be established to reduce transit time and freight costs.
Many cities of Russia and India already have linkages to strengthen and increase inter-regional trade cooperation: New Delhi – Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Bangalore – Novosibirsk, Chandigarh – Ufa, Chennai – Kazan, Kolkata – Vladivostok and Yaroslavl, Kochi – Pyatigorsk, Mumbai – Saint Petersburg, Pune – Yekaterinburg, Panjim – Krasnodar, Thiruvanathapuram – Stavropol (KREMLIN.RU, 11.12.2014).
“Diamond sparkle for India-Russia ties” was journalist Alexandra Kaatz’ headline for her interesting article about diamond trade at the centre of Indo-Russian interest. President Vladimir Putin visited the World Diamond Conference in India, in December 2014. Russia is the leading diamond producer, while India is the world’s largest centre of cutting and polishing diamonds. Russia’s Alrosa and Indian diamond traders will cooperate in the diamond industry. “Diamonds contribute 1.3 percent of Russia’s GDP. The gems sector of India contributres 6-7 percent of India’s GDP”, according to Alexandra Kaatz (RUSSIA & INDIA REPORT, 12.12.2014).
“Russia’s diamond reserves contain more than one billion carats, the largest in the world. The Russian firm Alrosa accounts for more than a quarter of global diamond mining. Indian companies account for 50 percent of Russian rough diamond sales”, President Vladimir Putin said in his speech at the World Diamond Conference in New Delhi.
Just like diamonds, Russian-Indian relations will sparkle even more, when BRICS is led by Russia, starting in April 2015. The harder western would-be imperialists and impoverished ex-colonialists are ganging up in their meagre attempts to isolate Russia, the stronger BRICS ties are developing. All of the BRICS member states have made the bitter experience of a colonial past. In the 21st century, nobody and nothing will stop them of cooperating in the view of a better and brighter future.
Vladimir Putin and Narenda Modi at the International World Diamond Conference in New Delhi:
Olivia Kroth: The journalist and author of four books lives in Southern France. Her blog: