Benaulim (Goa): India is likely to reaffirm its concerns over growing Russia-Pakistan military ties when Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Benaulim on Saturday during which the two sides will look at ramping up their “special and privileged partnership” by inking pacts in areas of defence and nuclear energy.
Ahead of the Indo-Russia annual summit, which is taking place barely weeks after the Uri strike by Pakistan-based terrorists, Indian envoy to Moscow Pankaj Saran said as far as Russia’s recent military exercise with Pakistan was concerned, “we have conveyed our concerns and views. We are confident that Russia will reflect on our concern. That is where we stand.”
Saran had earlier conveyed India opposition to Russia’s joint military exercise with Pakistan, a state that “sponsors and practices terrorism as state policy” and that it will create further problems.
He also asserted that terrorism was an important issue and will be discussed between the two leaders and efforts would be to ratchet up counter-terrorism cooperation.
According to sources, India also hopes to see Russia scale down its military cooperation with Pakistan. “We feel that Russia has understood our concerns, and going forward, there will be some action (scaling down),” sources said when asked if the recent Russia-Pakistan military exercise was a one-off episode and whether Russia had registered India’s concerns.
The two sides are looking at inking more than a dozen pacts including in the area of civil nuclear cooperation. The two sides have finalised the General Framework Agreement and Credit Protocol for unit 5 and 6 for Kudankulum project. They are also expected to ink defence deals worth billions of dollars.
Earlier, Modi said, “Putin’s visit will give an opportunity to consolidate and reaffirm a unique time-tested friendship and partnership with Russia.”
The two leaders will also exchange views on important regional and international issues, Saran said, adding “Indo-
Russia ties have more than just the bilateral dimension. There are regional and global issues, various troubled hotspots where Russia has stakes and where India has stakes.”
A “very wide range” of issues will be discussed and it would be unfair to pick one or two, the envoy said and added that the agenda has a “broad menu and fully respects the kind of relationship that both country share”.
The External Affairs Ministry officials also rejected suggestions of a rift between Russia and India, which recently signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US, a move which is seen by many as New Delhi’s moving away from its traditional ally.
“I would like to emphasize that the India-Russia special and privileged strategic partnership is characterized by unmatched mutual confidence, trust and goodwill cutting across the party lines as well as between citizens of the two countries.
“The broad geo-polotical interest of India and Russia not only do not clash but in most cases also coincide. The bilateral partnership covers the widest possible areas of cooperation which will also be on display tomorrow,” Joint Secretary dealing with Russia in MEA, G V Srinivas, said.