President Putin and Prime Minister Modi To Meet in India on December 6
28 November 2021
EIRNS—Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to India on Dec. 6 for his first in-person summit in two years with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “They will review the state and prospects of bilateral relations and discuss ways to strengthen the strategic partnership between the countries,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Nov. 26.
The Times of India reported that the “highlight” of the visit will be the delivery of Russia’s state-of-the-art S-400 missile defense system, whose components have already started arriving in India. “Delivery of the first squadron is scheduled to be completed by December,” the Times noted, adding: “The U.S. could impose sanctions against India for engaging in transactions with the Russian sectors.”
The Putin-Modi summit has been in preparation all year, and it is of great strategic significance. The S-400 deal will in fact incur the wrath of the U.S. and Britain, in part because it signals that India is only willing to go so far in its marriage to the Indo-Pacific Quad alliance of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India—which from the outset has been a British geopolitical maneuver to contain China. What London and Washington most fear is that the Putin-Modi summit could play a useful role in helping India get on track for in-depth cooperation with China’s Belt and Road Initiative—following, as it does, on the heels of the RIC (Russia-India-China) foreign ministers meeting on Nov. 26, which showed progress in the direction of triangular cooperation.
The agenda for the summit is quite broad, and includes critical economic issues. The Times of India reported: “President Putin’s visit is going to be an important one in view of our growing partnership in nuclear, space and defense sectors, as also further steps to operationalize the International North-South Transport Corridor and the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor as connectivity projects. Besides India and Russia have to explore economic opportunities in the Russian Far East as was projected during PM Modi’s visit to Vladivostok [two years ago]. There may be a focus on the increasing share of national currencies in bilateral payments and a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the Eurasian Economic Union.”
The Modi-Putin summit will coincide with the first meeting of the 2+2 dialogue of Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, with their respective counterparts, Sergei Shoigu and Sergey Lavrov. The Times of India article recalled that Lavrov had stated in February 2021 that the “India-Russia relationship is very close, very special, very privileged, and strategic,” and further reminded its readers that “the developments in Afghanistan have been discussed between the two countries at several levels. President Putin and PM Modi agreed to form a permanent bilateral channel for consultations on countering the dissemination of terrorist ideology and drug threat emanating from the territory of Afghanistan.” [dns]