India, Moscow: The panel comprising of diplomats and defense and security experts debated and deliberated on seven decades of Russia-India ties and the way forward in an uncertain world where the US under the Republican President Donald Trump’s regime pushes unilateralism in foreign policy and protectionism in trade and commerce.
Responding to a query on whether Russia is worried about New Delhi drifting towards the US and the West and seeking to diversify supply sources of defense hardware, all experts shared the view that there is no other example of a bilateral tie like what India and Russia enjoy.
Former Russian diplomat to India Vyacheslav Trubnikov described India-Russia ties as “privileged strategic partnership” and said that Russia is competing for Indian defense market on the basis of merit.
“India is a sovereign and independent country and there is no harm in New Delhi pursuing closer ties with the US and the West in general. The current world order is also based on competition and that governs arms trade as well, which is a market of buyers. We cannot be jealous and like everyone, Russia will have to compete and prove that its products can meet India’s requirements. And Russia is competing very well with Israel, the US, France and others in catering to Indian defense demands. We may get favor on some occasions and may fall behind others in some deals, that’s how arms market works,” he said.
Nandan Unnikrishnan, Vice-President, representing New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, a premier think-tank, stressed that there is no country like Russia for India when it comes to partnership in defense projects or nuclear energy.
“India is aspiring to be a great power. It wants to achieve self-sufficiency in arms production and ramp up domestic industrialization for job creation as well. Countries which will help India achieve these goals, transfer technology will obviously benefit from defense trade with India. We all know how much Russia is doing here,” he said.
Georgy Toloraya, Executive Director, Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that Russia-India defense ties are just one part of the overall relationship. The two countries have common stand on many issues and have wider stake in ensuring the stability in Eurasia.
“We very well understand that India has a pro-India stand when it comes to governing relations with other countries, including in defense ties. Russia and India are two pillars of stability in Eurasia and along with China form a triangle of stability in the region,” he said.