From Russia with Love


India and Russia to collaborate on Nuke Energy, TAPI Pipeline, LNG Supply

India’s agreement on the development and production in the lines of defence with the US had raised eyebrows that India’s increasing dependence on the US might come in the way of the former’s long-standing relationship with Russia. But the Indian government, especially, external affairs ministry including Salman Khurshid has insisted that it is a misconception and things should be looked at in that manner. He has stressed that India is entering into a first-of-its-kind of initiative with the US which would only add "more muscle" to the strategic partnership between the two countries and it would come in the way of the traditional friendship between Russia and India. It should be mentioned here that the Indo-US initiative came against the backdrop of the US administration’s desire to replicate Russia in the joint development of defence equipments with India like the Brahmos missiles.

India had clarified that the lines of co-operation between India and Russia would remain intact and would not get affected in any means. On the other hand, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated at the 15th General Assembly of the Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies stated clearly that the country is eager in taking forward cooperation in areas like military, technical and nuclear energy, according to Russian Prime Minister. India and Russia being "privileged partners", their mutual cooperation would only go stronger each day.

At the Moscow session of the joint Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on economic, scientific and cultural cooperation co-chaired by the Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Indian Cabinet Minister of the Ministry of External Affairs Salman Khurshid a number of areas for strategic partnership between the two countries were explored.

Speaking on the developments, Salman Khurshid said, “we have is a collective approach. We look at something that will multiply the impact on both sides. Of course, we may have something to contribute or an opportunity to offer. Russia may have something to contribute in terms technology, in terms of experience or the natural resources.”

 “So, what we’ve looked at is a variety of options and some that will benefit India directly, but obviously will bring benefit for Russia in terms of expansion of its trade and opportunities for its business people. Similarly, we are offering things on which we have made advancement and that could be an important dimension in terms of the living standards in Russia. For instance, pharmaceuticals is an area of strength that we want to offer in both ways, in terms of investments in pharmaceuticals in Russia, joint ventures in Russia and, indeed, export of pharmaceuticals which in terms of labour costs and in terms of a total cost of import provide a competitive advantage in the Russian market. So, that’s one very critical factor,” he continued.

Tremendous opportunity would be created out of the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor project that has been proposed. Russia can benefit hugely from the same. Once the project is kick-started, it would step up energy requirements of the country. Thus it would be a mutually beneficial proposition if Russia and India collaborates more effectively and in a bigger way in nuclear energy, hydrocarbons and in the area of telecom services. Another offer which India is considering is civilian use of an alternative GPS system – the GLONASS system. The system has been offered to India and the country is exploring possibilities of collaboration and cooperation in this area.

Some other areas of cooperation between the two countries apart from energy are pharmaceuticals, which is an area of strength. India can have both way cooperation in pharmaceuticals in terms of investment in pharmaceuticals in Russia, joint ventures in Russia and, , export of pharmaceuticals which in terms of labour costs and in terms of a total cost of import would provide a competitive advantage in the Russian market.

Moreover, Russia has shown interest in being a part of the ambitious pipeline project – the TAPI pipeline project, which would start from Turkmenistan and go via Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. It would drastically change the entire landscape of the region. India is also keen on receiving LNG from Russia which would answer much of the oil and gas needs of the country.

The greater the areas of collaboration – be it in the economic, business, trade, civil defence or defence collaboration, the better. It is beneficial in the long run for not only the two countries but for the entire region as a whole.