New Delhi: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar begins a significant two-day trip to Moscow at a time when there is no let-up in the war in Ukraine and New Delhi’s independent foreign policy is being questioned by the West.
Even though the EAM has stayed in constant touch with his counterpart Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, holding discussions with him on the sidelines of various international forums over the past few months, this will be his first visit to Russia after it launched its ‘Special Military Operation’ in neighbouring Ukraine in February, earlier this year.
With India batting for peace in the region and repeatedly stating that it remains deeply concerned at the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, the “international problems” besides the state of bilateral relations will dominate the discussions when Jaishankar meets Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday.
During his visit, Jaishankar will also meet Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and Minister of Trade and Industry, Denis Manturov who co-chairs the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC).
Jaishankar’s trip takes place at a time when India-Russia relations have been on an upswing with Russian President Vladimir Putin showering praise on “patriot” Prime Minister Narendra Modi and “talented” Indians in the last few days.
Both countries continue to take their ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ to a new high in spite of the current volatile global geo-strategic situation.
On Friday, Putin told historians and representatives of traditional religions of Russia gathered in Saint Petersburg on the occasion of the National Unity Day, about the potential of India and its citizens.
“Let’s take a look at India. A very talented people, purposeful, with such a drive for internal development, they will, of course, achieve outstanding results. India will achieve outstanding results in its development — there is no doubt about it,” he said.
On October 28, while addressing the final plenary session of the Moscow-based international framework Valdai International Discussion Club, Putin called PM Modi “a patriot”, and appreciated his ‘Make in India’ initiative and India’s “independent” foreign policy.
The Russian President told experts, politicians, diplomats, and economists from Russia and 40 foreign countries that he believes that countries like India have not only a great future but also a growing role in international affairs.
He stated that India has come a long way from being an English colony to its current state and that its nearly 1.5 billion people, the “remarkable results of development”, inspire both universal admiration and respect from around the world.
“Prime Minister Modi is the man, one of those people in the world, who is able to pursue an independent foreign policy in the interests of his people. Despite any attempts to restrain something, to limit something, he, you know, as an icebreaker, is moving calmly in the direction necessary for the Indian state,” he said.
The Russian President mentioned that India has made “great strides” in its development, has a “great future” and has the right to not only be proud of being the largest democracy “in the best sense of the word” but also at the pace of its development.
He mentioned that Moscow shares a “special relationship” with New Delhi that has been created or built on the foundation of a very close allied relationship over many, many decades.
“India and I have never had any, I want to emphasize this, never any difficult issues, we have always only supported each other. This is what is happening now, and I am sure it will continue to be so in the future,” he said.
Putin listed that the pace of military-technical and economic cooperation along with the trade turnover as a whole continues to grow between India and Russia.
“As an example, Prime Minister Modi asked me to increase the supply of fertilizer, which is very important for Indian agriculture, and we did it. How much do you think? Deliveries of fertilizers to India have been increased by 7.6 times — not by some percentage, but by 7.6 times. The trade turnover in the sphere of purchase and sale of agricultural products has almost doubled,” said the Russian head of state.