India thanked Russia on Saturday for not adopting any measure detrimental to the South Asian country’s security interests and also signed 16 bilateral agreements.

On the sidelines of BRICS Summit in the western Indian town of Benaulim, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss various aspects of bilateral ties. During their two-hour meeting, Prime Minister Modi informed his guest from Moscow about the current security scenario in South Asia and India’s plan to fight terror in the coming days.

President Putin assured the Indian PM that Moscow would back New Delhi’s measures to fight cross border terror and help India boost its air defence. The visiting president also expressed satisfaction over steps taken by the Indian government to expand bilateral economic and investment partnership. He strongly supported India’s early entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and welcomed its accession to the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

In the presence of two leaders, senior Indian and Russian officials signed 16 agreements, including key defence deals for purchase and manufacturing of helicopters, a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) on trade and investments and some hydrocarbon deals, to significantly boost economic partnership. On the basis of accords signed on Saturday, Russian oil firm Rosneft will pay USD 12.9 billion for a controlling stake in India’s Essar Oil. It is the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) into India and Russia’s biggest outbound deal.

Russia will also supply five S-400 air defence systems to India for USD 5.5 billion, four Grigorivich-class frigates for USD 4 billion and 200 twin-engine Kamov-226T choppers for USD 1 billion. Moscow further agreed to invest USD 500 million in joint fund under the National Infrastructure Investment fund.

Later, the Russian president and the Indian PM unveiled units three and four of Kudankulam Nuclear power complex through video-conferencing. Speaking at a joint press conference, Putin said
that Russia, “an old friend of India”, has cleared its stand on terrorism and backs New Delhi in its fight against terror. Modi prefaced his remarks at the event with the president invoking a
Russian proverb to drive home the point that “an old friend is better than two new friends” in a reflection of India’s apparent unhappiness over Russia’s recent joint military exercise with Pakistan. Modi also referred to convergence of views on developments in Afghanistan and West Asia, stressing: “Russia’s clear stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrors our own.”

On Saturday night, PM Modi held a separate meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that they discussed various ways to normalise ‘strained’ bilateral relations. As Beijing continues to defend its decision to block UN sanctioning of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, PM Modi raised the issue during his meeting with President Xi and sought to find a common ground on terror. The Indian premier told the visiting president that the two Asian neighbours could not afford differences on terrorism.

PM Modi and President Xi also discussed India’s attempt to enter the NSG. On the issue of India’s NSG membership, Modi told Xi that New Delhi was ready to work with Beijing to realise India’s membership of the elite group that controls international nuclear commerce.

Recalling the fact that the two sides had already had one round of dialogue over the issue, the Chinese president assured his host that the second round would take place soon.

Altogether, the first day of BRICS Summit was eventful and satisfactory for India.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]