Although Russian President Vladimir Putin’s arrival in the coastal state of Goa was delayed for more than nine hours due to poor visibility and fog at the airport, a warm handshake with Prime Minister Narendra Modi kickstarted the proceedings for the 17th bilateral summit on the sidelines of the eighth BRICS summit on Saturday. BRICS is an association of five major economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The summit assumes significance as it comes at a time when the relationship between India and Pakistan has plunged to a new low in recent times in the wake of Uri terror attack and the subsequent surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army across the Line of Control (LoC).
Terrorism is expected to be featured on the agenda with India likely to call on the respective members to join her on a united fight against the international threat.
PM Modi, who reached the state last night, then held delegation-level talks with Putin before both the heads of state delivered a joint statement detailing the partnership between the two countries. Both PM Modi and President Putin also lay the foundation of units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam nuclear plant via video conferencing.
India and Russia signed a total of 16 agreements mostly in the fields of defence, energy, power, shipbuilding and space. The defence deals includes purchase of missile systems, frigates and joint production of helicopters besides deciding to deepen cooperation in a range of crucial sectors even as the two close allies resolved to fight the scourge of terrorism unitedly.
Amongst the major deals signed between the two countries are the S-400 air defence system worth $5 billion, supply of Kamov K226T helicopters to India and construction of frigates. Both PM Modi and President Putin also inaugurated units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam nuclear plant. Modi and Putin also held wide-ranging talks covering the entire expanse of bilateral engagement.
“We have agreed to work on an annual military industrial conference that will allow stakeholders on both sides to institute and push collaboration,” said PM Modi, who described Russia as an ‘old friend of India’. “With proposed construction of another eight reactors, our wide ranging cooperation in nuclear energy is set to bring rich dividends for both of us,” the Prime Minister added.
Appreciating Russia’s “unequivocal condemnation” of the cross-border terror attack on Uri Army base, PM Modi said, “Russia’s clear stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrors our own. We deeply appreciate Russia’s understanding and support of our actions to fight cross-border terrorism, that threatens our entire region.We both affirmed the need for zero tolerance in dealing with terrorists and their supporters.”
Subsequently, India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar asserted in a media briefing that both India and Russia condemn terrorism in all its ‘forms and manifestations’ and insisted that its former cold war ally will never do anything against India’s best interests.
He further said, “the sense of meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia President Vladimir Putin was that the relationship has really progressed well in last nine months.” He added that India has expressed its gratitude to Russia for its “unequivocal condemnation” of the terror attack in Uri, in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed last month.
In response, India, in a well calibrated operation, had carried out surgical strikes on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 across the Line of Control and attacked several terror launch pads.
Top heads of state including Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African president Jacob Zuma are in Goa to attend the BRICS summit. PM Modi will also chair the BIMSTEC meeting after meeting with BRICS and BIMSTEC leaders.
Meanwhile, delegation level talks between India and China are underway at BRICS 2016 in Goa.