What is the trajectory of Indo-Russian relations in the evolving world order?
India’s ambassador to Russia, Pankaj Saran has called for making bilateral relations more pragmatic, which would allow the “time tested partners” to interact on the maximum spectrum of directions of international politics: in the economy, in the exchange of technologies, in countering international terrorism, and so on. At the same time, the ambassador also warned against complacency, given the uncertain times that we live in. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the Observer Research Foundation-Russkiy Mir Foundation strategic dialogue in Moscow on 6 and 7 April, to celebrate the seven decades of Indo-Russian partnership.
The two-day dialogue was a part of the “roadmap of events” agreed upon between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin at the Goa summit last year. It, in fact, opened a series of events scheduled throughout this year to celebrate the “special and privileged partnership” that predates India’s independence.
The gathering brought together academic and diplomatic experts from both countries to discuss on the current state of India-Russia relations. The event saw deliberations on a wide range of issues between the two countries. This included a discussion on the evolving world order and the trajectory of Indo-Russian relations in this order. Issues on multilateral frameworks like the BRICS and SCO were also discussed. Finally, views on the evolving security situation in West Asia and Afghanistan were also exchanged. While maintaining that relations between the two countries are unique and privileged, both sides also agreed upon the existing gaps in the partnership. Both sides reiterated their interest an inclusive world order. While Ambassador Pankaj Saran called for making the bilateral relations more pragmatic, Russian parliamentarian and Head of Russkiy Mir, Vyacheslav Nikonov spoke of the important role Russia-India ties play in international affairs. He noted the need to work on the image building process in the media. He referred to the negative image Russia is developing in the Indian press, which is primarily due to its relations with Pakistan. He stressed the need to take steps to remove misunderstandings, if any, between the two countries. Overall, the dialogue saw some free and frank exchange of views between the Indian and Russian experts on areas of mutual concern. Both Indian and Russian participants stressed the need to increase economic ties between the two countries. In this context, the difficulty in obtaining visas was highlighted. Both sides emphasised the uniqueness of Indo-Russian relations and opined that it is important not take them for granted, especially in these uncertain times. Both countries can play a pivotal role in ensuring the stability of the world order and must work to strengthen the ties.
ORF and Russkiy Mir have been conducting annual joint dialogues for the last ten years on a wide range of issues related to the development of bilateral relations and the role of the two powers in the global world order.
This year’s dialogue, however, was special since it coincided with the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
This report is prepared by Himani Pant, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.