Jaishankar’s Balancing Act with White Christmas in Russia

Indian EAM Subrahmanyam Jaishankar landed in Moscow on Christmas day 2023 for a five-day official visit to Russia. Traditionally, India and Russia have strong partnerships in the fields of defense, space and energy.

Being highly sensitive and strategic areas, both sides confirmed that such cooperation would not be possible without ‘a certain level of trust.’ Both countries are eager to cooperate in the manufacturing of ‘modern weapons’. Currently, India procures fighter jets, tanks, armored vehicles and ammunition from Russia.

“We are respectful of the aspirations of our Indian colleagues to diversify their military and technical links. We also understand and we are ready to support their initiative to produce military products as part of the ‘Make in India’ program.”

Russian EAM Sergei Lavrov

In view of the Red Sea Crisis disrupting commercial shipping through the Suez Canal, India and Russia renewed discussions on jointly building the North-South Corridor as well as the establishment of the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime service.

North-South Corridor

India and Russia signed agreements to expand the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu. It is to be recalled that the first two reactors were built some two decades based on a cooperation agreement between India and Russia. The extra nuclear reactors are slated to become online by 2027.

Both sides exchanged views on current international affairs such as conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. In 2024, Russia agreed to take over the chairmanship (initially going to Brazil) of #BRICS where India is also a member. The two countries are also members of the #SCO and #G20.

Despite pressure from the West and a charm offensive from the US, India has chosen to stay neutral on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and has actually stepped up its cooperation with Russia.

Su-30MKI is ‘Make in India’ by HAL under licence from Sukhoi

Bilateral trade volume reached an all-time high of USD 50 billion in 2022. Russia is India’s largest military gear supplier with a share of 45% of Indian defense imports. Faced with economic sanctions, Russia is relying on countries such as India which is still buying quite a bit of Russian oil.

In addition to meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Jaishankar enjoyed the extraordinary privilege of having a tête-à-tête with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Jaishankar’s visit is believed to pave the way the resumption of the annual India-Russia Summit at a mutually convenient and agreed date.