India-Russia holds a bilateral relationship. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union (USSR) and India had a strong military, strategic, diplomatic, and economic relationship. After the end of the USSR, Russia inherited its close relations with India, which turned into a good relationship. The relationship b/w, India and Russia is a vital and privileged strategic partnership. An informal meeting between the government and head of state of both countries shows warming in the relations between the two countries. Russia has been an ancient and time-tested partner for India. The development of India-Russia relations has been the main support of India's foreign policy.
Since the signing of the “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000, India-Russia ties have attained a qualitatively new character with enhanced levels of cooperation in almost all areas of the bilateral relationship including security, political, trade and defence, economy, culture, and science and technology. Under the Strategic Partnership, several institutionalized dialogue mechanisms operate at both official and political levels to ensure regular interaction and follow up on cooperation activities. During the visit of the Russian President to India in December 2010, the Strategic Partnership has reached the level of a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.”
Indo-Russian strategic partnership built on five major components:
- Civil nuclear energy
- Anti-terrorism co-operation
However, recently a sixth economic component has also grown in importance, with both countries setting a goal of reaching US$30 billion in bilateral trade by 2025, from about US$9.4 billion in the year 2017. To meet this goal, India and Russia are looking to develop a free trade treaty. Bilateral trade b/w two countries in 2012 grew by over 24%. The powerful IRIGC (India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission) is the key body that conducts affairs at the governmental level between the two countries. Both countries are members of many international bodies where they work together on matters of shared national interest. Important examples include the BRICS, UN, SCO, and G20. Russia has declared publicly that it helps India receiving a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Additionally, Russia has expressed interest in joining SAARC with observer status in which India is a founding member. India is the 2nd largest market for the Russian defence industry. In 2017, about 68% of the Indian Military's hardware import came from Russia, making Russia a significant supplier of defence equipment.
Defence and Security Cooperation between India and Russia
India has a longstanding cooperation with Russia in the field of defence. Russia-India military-technical cooperation has evolved from a buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development, and production of advanced defence technologies. BrahMos Missile System as well as the licensed production in India of T-90 tanks and SU-30 aircraft is examples of such flagship cooperation.
During the 17th Annual Summit, the sides concluded treaties on the supply of S-400 air defence systems, construction of frigates under Project 1135.6, and shareholders treaties on the formation of a joint venture to manufacture Ka-226T helicopters in India. Both the countries also hold exchanges and training exercises b/w their armed forces annually.
The joint military exercise
- Indra ‟ frequently held between both countries.
- The annual bilateral naval exercise “Indra – Navy” Tri services exercise between India & Russia in 2019
Role of Russia in 1971 war of freedom
The Soviet Union warned Pakistan against the war, which they named as a "suicidal course for Pakistan's unity. On the other side, the US stood with Pakistan by assisting it politically, morally, materially, and economically. The Soviet Union sympathized with the East Pakistanis and helped the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini's attack against Pakistan during the war. The Soviet Union gave assurance to India that if a conflict with the United States or China increases, then it would take counter-measures. This assurance enshrined in the Indo-Soviet agreement of Friendship and Cooperation signed in August 1971.
Then United States Ambassador to the United Nations introduced a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for a cease-fire and the removal of armed forces by Pakistan and India. However, it was prohibited by the Soviet Union, and the following days witnessed the use of great pressure on the Soviets from the USA and UN duo to get India to withdraw, but to no avail. When the defeat of Pakistan in the eastern sector seemed certain, the USA deployed Task Force 74 - led by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise - into the Bay of Bengal. Enterprise and its escort ships arrived at the station on Dec. 11, 1971. The UK also deployed a carrier battle group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle to the Bay on her final deployment. On 13 and 6 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of destroyers & cruisers from Vladivostok; they trailed the US Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from December 18, 1971, to January 7, 1972. The Soviets also had a nuclear submarine to help defend the risk posed by the USS Enterprise task force in the Indian Ocean.