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a year.The Ka-226T twin-engined helicopter deal is important for Modi, who wants to upgrade a military that relies on outdated Soviet equipment and build India’s defence production capacity.“Even if India’s options have increased, Russia remains our most important defence partner,”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.