Ahead of his two-day visit to India for the five-nation BRICS Summit in Goa, Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed satisfaction over the current state of Indo-Russian ties.

In an exclusive interview to IANS/Sputnik, President Putin said that Russia considers India as its “especially privileged strategic partner” and remains one of India’s leading suppliers of advanced weapons and defence technology. He also said that Russia would remain so in the future.

On Thursday, Putin once again assured New Delhi that Russia would help India ensure a steady economic growth and maintain peace in South Asia. He talked about collaborating with New Delhi on several projects and “Afghanistan”. Putin stressed that Moscow and New Delhi could jointly seek ways to address potential threats, adding: “Russia and India share the need to support national reconciliation efforts… deepen co-operation to assist Afghanistan solve security matters…”

As far as bilateral defence co-operation is concerned, the president categorically said: “Our countries actively collaborate in the military technical field. Russia remains in the lead in terms of both direct supplies of most advanced weapons and military equipment and conducting joint researches with India, as well as producing goods for military purposes.”

The Russian leader told the press that Kremlin would also help New Delhi develop new generation missiles in order to protect its sovereignty. “The construction of the BrahMos supersonic cruise
missile and the development of a new fifth generation fighter aircraft are among the successful joint projects,” said the president.

Although Putin admitted that a number of Russian projects in India have no commercial importance, he claimed that these projects play a significant social and economic role for both the economies. In a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Russian president stressed that the joint projects are “harmoniously fit in the new Indian industrialisation programme”.

President Putin further thanked Russian companies for investing a huge amount of money in the South Asian country, saying: “Russian companies see real prospects and high attractiveness of the Indian market.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has said in a statement that Prime Minister Modi will hold a meeting with President Putin on the sidelines of the upcoming BRICS Summit to discuss various aspects of bilateral ties. According to sources close to the Indian ministry, the Indian PM may also discuss the current geopolitical scenario in South Asia with the visiting Russian president.

India believes that it could neutralise China’s growing influence in the region with Russian help. That is why India has gone to great lengths to protect the special quality of its ‘Russia relationship’. However, Moscow is making no attempt to balance its China tilt. The Indo-Russian relationship is actually Moscow’s only balance in Asia.

In BRICS, India, Russia and Brazil could balance out the Chinese power, but that ain’t happening. Russia, which maintains cordial ties with both India and China, has always asked the two Asian neighbours to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues through peaceful negotiation.

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]