Welcome to Russia my dear friend, very happy to see you, Putin tells Modi

"Tomorrow we will have official talks, but today we will have an informal round like one does at home," said President Putin, who hosted a dinner in PM Modi’s honour.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin(File Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was congratulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin for his electoral victory as the two leaders hugged when they met in Moscow following which they spoke over a round of tea. "Welcome to Russia, my dear friend, very happy to see you," said President Putin on seeing PM Modi.

"Tomorrow we will have official talks, but today we will have an informal round like one does at home," said President Putin, who hosted a dinner in PM Modi’s honour.

PM Modi thanked President Putin for inviting him to his house. "I am happy to be at your house where we can sit and chit chat. Thank you for the same," he said.

PM Modi was received at Moscow airport by Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dennis Manturov. While driving through Moscow, members of the Indian community were waving their hands and chanting 'Modi Modi'.

This is PM Modi’s first visit to Moscow in five years (the last time was in 2019 when he visited Vladivostok). Modi and Putin will take part in the 22nd India Russia Summit in Moscow on July 9.

On Tuesday, PM Modi will lay a wreath on the 'Tomb of the Unknown Soldier' followed by visiting the Rosatom Pavilion. He will have a restricted meeting with President Putin on Tuesday afternoon followed by delegation-level talks. He will leave for Vienna later in the evening.

Meanwhile, this is PM Modi’s first visit to Moscow since the conflict began between Russia and Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

The two leaders last met each other in person in Uzbekistan in 2022 during the SCO Summit.

"I look forward to reviewing all aspects of bilateral cooperation with my friend Vladimir Putin and sharing perspectives on various regional and global issues. We seek to play a supportive role for a peaceful and stable region. This visit will also provide me with an opportunity to meet the vibrant Indian community in Russia," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi before leaving for Russia on Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin
Modi, Putin to meet amidst growing proximity between Russia, China

This visit is being viewed as important, as despite the tradition and historic ties India has with Russia, there is a growing proximity between Russia and China. In the recently concluded Shanghai Corporation Organisation (SCO) Summit held in Astana, Kazakhstan, that PM Modi did not attend in person, President Putin described relations with China as 'the best in history'.

Notwithstanding the proximity between Russia and China, India is doing its bit to fortify its existing partnership. PM Modi reiterated the same before leaving for Russia.

"The Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia has advanced over the past ten years including in the areas of energy, security, trade, investment, health, education, culture, tourism and people to people exchanges," Modi added on Monday.

Amongst the announcements likely to be made is a long-term uranium supply deal with Russia for a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, despite India looking at other markets to purchase military hardware, even now nearly one-third of India’s defence imports come from Moscow. This is down from two-thirds a few years back, but that is primarily due to Russia's inability to supply spares since the conflict with Ukraine. However, bilateral energy trade has improved as India increased its imports from Russia as it was getting it on huge discounts. Russia’s exports to India are valued at $60 billion while India’s exports are around $4 billion.

"Trade imbalance is a matter of priority and will be taken up in our discussions with the Russian side," Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Friday. India wants to export farm products, technology, pharmaceuticals and services to lower the deficit.

Meanwhile, PM Modi had also travelled to Moscow with former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2001 and he signed a protocol pact for cooperation between his home state of Gujarat and Russian province of Astrakhan.

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