NEW DELHI:Perhaps inspired by the recent summit with China’s president Xi Jinping in Wuhan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Sochi, Russia on May 21 for an ‘informal’ summit with President Vladimir Putin.
According to the MEA, “….this will 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 our special and privileged strategic partnership. Both leaders will also discuss their respective national developmental priorities and bilateral matters.”
This announcement follows the May 10 visit of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to Moscow, where they met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other senior officials, including Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev.
Under the strategic partnership signed between the two nations in 2000, India and Russia have held 18 formal summits so far, the last in St Petersburg where Modi and Putin also interacted with CEOs from both countries, and addressed the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) together with President Putin. In a first, Modi also interacted with Governors from various Russian regions to further broad-base bilateral cooperation and more actively involve states/regions and other stakeholders.
The informal summit is significant given the upcoming US sanctions not just against Russia under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, but also Iran following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord with Tehran. This could impact India’s acquisition of defence spares as well as other defence deals in the pipeline, like the S 400 anti-missile system.
Similar to what had happened before the Wuhan meeting, neither side was willing to get into the details of the agenda. But apart from bilateral interests like weapons and the impending sanctions, chances are that the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in China and ways to cope with the unpredictable and rapidly changing global situation also come up discussion. Moscow’s increasing closeness with Islamabad might also be raised. The Indian and Pakistani armies will be conducting their first ever anti-terror drill together under the SCO auspices later this year.
Possible impact of Countering Us’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act
1 India’s planned procurement from Russia include the S-400 air defence system, Project 1135.6 frigates and Ka226T helicopters. Stringent implementation of CAATSA could impact all of them
2. CAATSA may also impact joint ventures (JVs) – including upcoming ones. Existing JVs include Indo Russian Aviation Ltd, Multi-Role Transport Aircraft Ltd and Brahmos Aerospace.
3. Military spares, components, overhauls and raw material needed to jointly manufacture both low and high end military equipment and platforms may also take a hit.