In his 4 country Europe tour, Prime Minister Modi has agendas that also includes restoring Indo-Russia’s dwindling bond, and discuss Russia’s growing interest in India’s estranged neighbours.
Russia remains an important partner for India but “the basis for the relationship is, however, very weak”, said Dhruva Jaishankar, foreign policy fellow with Brookings India.
In the presence of both the leaders an agreement framework is expected to be tabled, that will discuss on Moscow’s supply of reactors to nuclear plants in India, as the country looks to reduce high-pollution inducing coal imports.
Russia has supplied two reactors to the plant under a long-delayed agreement and has been pushing to supply more.
A revival of two-way trade, which slumped to below $8 billion in 2015 despite an ambitious bilateral target of achieving $30 billion by 2030, will be a key priority during Modi’s visit.
Moscow was once a top supplier to New Delhi in military hardware, but as India‘s increasing interest in defence trade with the United States, France, and Israel, the acquaintance lost its old sheen.
Furthermore, Modi is now seeking to manufacture military hardware locally, asking foreign firms to work with domestic contractors under his “Make in India” campaign, in a bid to reduce reliance on costly imports.
Russia is close to finalising a deal to build Kamov military helicopters in India. However the country’s growing association with Pakistan is creating ripples in Indian shores.
Moscow lifted its embargo on arms supplies to India’s arch rival in 2014, according to Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency, and was holding talks on supplying Islamabad with combat helicopters.
Modi’s four-nation tour of Europe will also include stops in Germany and Spain to drum up foreign investment, and a face-to-face with newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron in France.