Indo - Russian Relations : Post Pokhran-II

07 Apr, 1999    ·   183

K. M. Pari Valen notes that relations between "India and Russia since the Pokharan II tests have remained largely unaffected due to the continuation and convergence of their strategic interests of both the countries".

Relations between India and Russia since the Pokharan II tests have remained largely unaffected due to the continuation and convergence of their strategic interests of both the countries.



Russia official reactions of Russia to the Pokharan Nuclear Testing are noteworthy. On May 12 an official statement said "these steps (nuclear tests by India ) run counter to efforts by the world community to strengthen the regime of NPT. On the same day,  Mr. Yelstin said,  " India of course has let us down with its blasts, but I think we can bring about a shift in its stance through diplomatic efforts". At the same time the Foreign Minister of Russia said on Russian TV: ‘We are suspicious of the sanctions. It is an extreme measure often counter-productive.’ This reflected a balanced view , one being the official reaction of a P-5, nuclear weapon state, and the other as on old ally appreaciating the new security parameters for India .



There is not much  alteration in Russia ’s India policy after Pokharan II. This is evident from significant recent developments like revival of ‘strategic partnership’ and ‘defence cooperation’ with India till 2010, the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mr. Primakov to India , and the latest visit of the Russian Defence Minister Marshal Igor Sergeyev. Several agreements were signed during Primakov’s visit.



Reasons for the continuation in relations between India and Russia :



Firstly, the defence relations between India and Russia . Sixty to seventy percent of defence purchaseswere made by India . Russia has sold MiG aircrafts, Sukhoi-30 fighters, T-72 tanks etc.  Besides these procurements, India and Russia have signed many agreements on upgradation of equipment. A the high level team visited Russia comprising the former Defence Secretary Mr. Ajit Kumar, to participate in the Indo-Russian Joint Working Group on military and technical cooperation which is significant. T-90 Missile firing battle tank, few more sukhoi multi role fighters, ‘Kamav Helicopter et al, are in the pipe line.



Secondly, Russia in the post Cold War period needs strong allies to break the US monopoly in a unipolar world. Besides,  it is important for Russia to maintain its image of true Euroasian power. Russian Defence Minister, Marshall Igor D. Sergeyev, clearly and explicitly uttered the Russia ’s aversion to U.S. dominance by saying ‘that a new re-division of the world through the use of force related factors - economic, political and military was being enacted’. He further blamed the United States for unilaterally altering the international security structures. It is significant that a ‘strategic triangle’ paradigm was advanced by the Russian P.M. during his visit to India . It significance arises from its challengeto  U.S. hegemony in world politics. The Russian Defence Minister’s comment on the Indo-Russian relations is also significant. He said that "Indo-Russian ties are rising to the level of real strategic partnership". The ramifications of Indo-Russian "Strategic cooperation goes beyond South-Asian region. The ties between the two are not only relevant for bilateral relations, but also for international security."



Thirdly, bilateral trade forms another important area for India-Russia relations . The volume of trade between the two is on the rise. The two way trade increased from Rs. 2,843.3 crore in 1993-94 to Rs. 5,831 crore in 97-98. India ’s exports to Russia is up at Rs. 1,511.6 crore during April-September 98-99 from Rs. 1, 462 crore in the previous year. To facilitate trade expansion, India is willing to relax the value - addition norms governing the export of goods to Russia through the debt repayment route to help boost bilateral trade flows. Russia is  also willing to expand trade ties.  The Russian trade minister G.V. Gabuniya, had raised the issue of India imposing  anti dumping duty of India on H. R. Coils supplied by Russia . Both are willing to boost the pharmaceutical trade. They are also working together on Rupee funded joint venture investments.



Fourthly, Russia and India have a common interest in preventing Islamic militancy from spreading into the Central Asian region that lies between the borders. The civil war in Tajikistan is a common cause for concern. Russia is wary of the Pakistani and Iranian propensity to of mix economy and political diplomacy with religion. India has strategic as well as economic interest in Central Asia , for which Russian help is of great advantage.



Thus, the basic geo political and strategic factors which laid the foundations of Indo-Russian friendship and cooperation make both Russia and India continue their relations. The nuclear tests by India have not affected them in any significant way. The revival of Indo-Russian military and technical cooperation defyies any possible irritants in the post Pokhran II era between the two countries. Both has a role to play jointly not only in this region but on the global level.



Continuity, trust and confidence are the hall mark of relations between India and Russia .