Close on the heels of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in an informal setting in Wuhan, China, in April, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Russia on 21 May for an informal summit with President Vladimir Putin at the beach resort of Sochi.
The informal summit at Sochi was in keeping with the tradition of regular consultations between India and Russia at the highest levels, the External Affairs Ministry announced on Monday.
The summit would be an important occasion for the two leaders to exchange views on international matters in a broad and long-term perspective with the objective of further strengthening special and privileged partnership between the two countries. The two leaders would also discuss their respective national developmental priorities and bilateral matters, the ministry added.
The date for the PM’s visit to Russia was finalized last week when National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale visited Moscow.
The summit will take place days after Putin was sworn in as President for a fourth term in office. Modi was among the first world leaders to congratulate Putin on his re-election to the post in March. The two leaders have established a personal chemistry between them which is quite visible whenever and wherever they have met over the past four years.
The visit will provide an opportunity to the two leaders to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, particularly in the defence and security field, and also to take stock of important global developments, including the US decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord and the situation in Afghanistan, Syria and the Korean peninsula.
Sources said Modi would most likely reassure Putin of India’s commitment to consolidate ties with Russia in defence, nuclear energy, trade and other key sectors. The two leaders might also discuss how their two countries could counter the challenge posed to their defence cooperation by impending US sanctions against several Russian entities involved in military supplies to India under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
Russia is also said to be upset with India since New Delhi has in recent years diversified its defence purchases rather than remaining dependent on Moscow. However, sources made it clear that Russia was and would most likely remain the biggest arms supplier to India. This was reiterated to Moscow only in April when Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Russia and discussed a slew of defence deals, including the S-400 air-defence missile systems.
The Modi-Putin summit is taking place under the shadow of the growing friendship between Moscow and Islamabad, much to the discomfort of India. Reports in the media have suggested that Pakistan was keen on defense purchases from Russia. India is vehemently opposed to any defenae partnership between Russia and Pakistan since most of the weaponry with India is of Russian-origin.