As Prime Minister Narendra Modi commences a two-day visit to Russia on Wednesday for the annual summit talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, New Delhi is expected to focus on nuclear energy, hydrocarbons, defence and trade.
The summit-level talks between the two countries at the highest level have been taking place alternately in Moscow and New Delhi since 2000. Like every year, they are expected to ink in a series of agreements this time too, ranging from nuclear to defence, tourism to trade.
Strengthening economic ties would be a major priority as the two countries are aiming to enhance their annual bilateral trade to US$ 30 billion over the next 10 years from the current US$ 10 billion. India is looking at a deeper engagement in Russia’s oil and coal sector besides stepping up cooperation in some other areas like diamond trade and agro-business. New Delhi is also likely to push for a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Zone.
Besides bilateral issues, Modi and Putin are likely to deliberate on a number of global issues including the situation in Syria and ways to tackle terrorism.
Amid all the pacts and photo-ops is the fact that relations between India and Russia have been adrift for some time now — Modi’s visit is expected to give them a sense of direction.
On Wednesday, Putin will host a private dinner for the Prime Minister and the two leaders will also interact with a group of Indian and Russian CEOs in Kremlin.
Through the engagements in Russia, Modi will seek to assuage Russia’s concerns that New Delhi is abandoning its long-time friend as well as seek to close a handful of strategically important deals – an indicator of the fact that India still wants to do business with Russia.