mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Foreign Policy a la Modi
A Major Meeting Between Putin and Modi

Vladimir Putin spent the past several days in India meeting with Narendra Modi, and the meetings bore significant fruit. In a continuation of their historically close relationship, Russia and India signed a host of deals to work together on everything from building nuclear reactors to weapons sales. Reuters reports:

Modi spoke after a one-day summit that sought to revive a relationship that peaked in the Soviet era. The two sides signed billions of dollars of deals in nuclear power, oil and defence.

In the biggest, state-owned Rosatom will build 12 nuclear reactors in India, oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM) signed a 10-year crude supply deal with Essar Oil (ESRO.NS) and India agreed to assemble 400 Russian multi-role helicopters a year.

The Ka-226T twin-engined helicopter deal is important for Modi, who wants to upgrade a military that relies on outdated Soviet equipment and build India’s defence production capacity.

“Even if India’s options have increased, Russia remains our most important defence partner,” Modi, 64, told reporters after the first formal summit between the leaders since he won election in May.

Outside of just the official deals, the tone was warm, especially compared to the way that Putin has been received by other world leaders lately. On top of Putin’s reception, India also played host to Sergei Aksyonov, the thuggish Russian nicknamed The Goblin who took power over Crimea after Moscow annexed it from Ukraine. Across town from the Putin-Modi meeting, high level Indian businessmen met with him and started talks for ventures in the peninsula. (Moscow claims he is only there in an unofficial capacity, but then Moscow says lots of things. According to the New York Times, “[Aksyonov] traveled to India on a plane with Russian officials attending the meeting, and was flanked by Russian diplomats, whom he credited with arranging the event.”)

This raises an issue for U.S.-Indian relations: Barack Obama is set to visit Modi in January, on India’s independence day. The U.S. has been rallying allies to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Congress is pushing a bill that allows lethal military aid to Kiev and substantially expands the sanctions regime against Moscow. It will be interesting to see if and how Modi’s dealings with Putin affect his upcoming meeting with Obama.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Kevin

    In many ways Russia is an attractive partner for India – both could well face issues with an assertive China down the road, and for all of Putin’s thuggishness he is reliable and will not leave paying customers in the lurch.

    • Andrew Allison

      Whilst Putin is a (very smart) thug, he is clearly not reliable. Just ask the paying customers who have fallen out of favor.

    • Corlyss

      That was what kept us and India at arms length for so long. That and the fact that Russia is the thug in the next block, like China, while we’re the cavalry across the ocean. We need to cultivate the world’s largest Democracy. But Obama is a lame duck and a despised one domestically and internationally at that. So what beyond pleasantries is there to discuss with Obama? If the subject is important to India, Obama won’t commit to anything. If the subject is important to Obama, like climate change, what’s in it for the Indians? This is just boondoggling.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service