India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval will travel to Russia later this week in a bid to reassure Moscow that the ties between the two countries are important to India and that they remain key defence, security and nuclear partners, officials familiar with the development said.
Doval will meet his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev on the trip, which was initially meant to be held before the NSA went to the US in March.
“This visit is aimed at reassuring them that India places highest importance on the relationship with Russia, a time-tested strategic partner,” said an official on condition of anonymity. During the trip, he will tell the Russians that India is keen on signing a commercial contract for acquiring a submarine – a Russian Navy Akula-2 which will be modernised to meet India’s needs — for approximately US$ 2 billion later this year, the official added.
India and Russia are working on ways to step up defence ties, too, particularly through the joint production of spare parts.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had travelled to Russia earlier this month. India’s renewed focus on strengthening ties comes in the backdrop of a sense that the two countries were drifting apart — with India getting closer to the US, and Russia getting closer to China and opening channels with Pakistan.
“This partnership (Russia) has become even more relevant today as the world is readjusting to the emergence of new powers.
“The partnership between India and Russia is multi-dimensional. It runs deep and is a fundamental pillar of India’s foreign policy. We have mutual trust and strategic convergence,” the Indian ambassador to Russia, Pankaj Saran, told Russian newspaper Nizavisimaya Gazeta in a recent interview.
The official quoted above said India had a definite roadmap for nuclear cooperation with Russia. “It has key components of localisation, partnering for setting up reactors in third-world countries that are made in India,” he said.