Within a month of the Indo-US ‘2+2’ ministerial-level dialogue, Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit New Delhi on 4 October for the much-anticipated India-Russia annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two countries are looking at the possibility of signing a series of agreements, including some defence deals, following the summit between the two leaders.
Official sources confirmed that several accords were being negotiated between the two sides but declined to give details of the pacts. ‘’We are discussing the agenda of the visit with the Russian side…there will be several announcements after the summit,’’ they added.
There is also a possibility of India and Russia signing the much talked about S-400 Triumph missile defence systems deal during Putin’s visit. India faces the threat of US sanctions under the Countering of America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it were to go ahead with the S-400 deal.
India is believed to have informed the US at the recent ‘2+2” dialogue that it proposed to move ahead with the deal and asked Washington to keep it out of the sanctions’ regime. Washington’s attention was also drawn to historic nature of India’s defence partnership with Russia as well as the legacy systems.
This will be the third meeting between Modi and Putin this year. They had held an informal summit in Sochi in May, followed by a bilateral meeting in Johannesburg on the margins of the BRICS Summit in July.
The India-Russia summits are the highest level of official exchange between the two countries and are held alternately in the two countries. The last summit was held in St Petersburg in 2017.
Another significant project that could come up for discussions between the two leaders is the proposed International North-South Transport corridor which shortens the transit time for cargo between Mumbai and Europe by routing goods through Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
The India-Russia summit this year is taking place at a time when there is some disquiet in official circles in New Delhi over the friendly overtures being made by Moscow towards Islamabad. Russia has, however, assured New Delhi that cooperation with Pakistan would remain ‘quite limited’ and that it would never supply arms to Islamabad.
Sources said India was also discussing with Russia the draft of the joint statement to be issued after the Modi-Putin summit, which could contain a paragraph on terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is currently in Moscow to discuss with the Russian leadership the preparations for Putin’s visit to India. She is believed to have assured Russia that India would take independent decisions as a sovereign nation with regard to proposed defence accords with Moscow.