On January 25, on the occasion of Russian Student Day the Russian leader elaborated on Russia-India relations, the progress made and plans for the future. By and large, the prospects for cooperation look quite positive, ranging from the development of soft power initiatives to plans for peaceful nuclear energy. At the same time, this might be feasible given overcoming of some infrastructural limitations.
The Soviet Union was the country that supported India’s struggle for independence and supported the formation of Indian statehood, economy, industry, and social sphere in the first steps. India has made tremendous strides in its efforts to develop, especially in recent times, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. His “Made-in-India” push was heard by many, including in Russia, and we are trying to implement these plans together with our Indian friends, the President Vladimir Putin said, responding to a student from India at the Baltic Federal University.
Indo-Russian relations date back many decades now. They began to develop actively in the mid-1950s and solidified contemporary Russia as the second most important supplier of goods to India and India’s fourth largest trading partner, behind the United States, China and the UAE.
India is developing at a remarkable pace. India's GDP growth is 7.7 percent, this is one of the highest rates of economic development and economic growth in the world. And this was also done thanks to the leadership qualities of the current Prime Minister, the Russian leader continued.
So far, Russia and India have established an extensive organizational and administrative infrastructure for cooperation at different levels. Countries work within the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation, the High-Level Committee on Scientific and Technical Cooperation, the Business Council for Cooperation with India.
Although all institutions functioning and the seemingly dynamic development of political relations, business and scientific cooperation, trade turnover between countries is extremely unbalanced. By the end of 2023, Russia exported 51 billion dollars out of 54 billion to India, and only 3 billion is what Indian supplies.
The adoption of a 12th package of sanctions against Russia, and with it an almost complete ban on the export of diamonds from Russia was taken cautiously in India. Transactions in national currencies also remain questionable: the rupee is not convertible. If we assume hypothetically that the rupee becomes more convertible and, say, on the Moscow Exchange the rupee-ruble pair and on the Indian exchanges the rupee-ruble pair, this will facilitate the development of trade turnover.
These problems may negatively affect the dynamics of trade and investment interaction. It is worth mentioning that Russia and India have extensive experience in joint hydrocarbon production: Indian companies own shares in Russian projects Sakhalin-1, Vankorneft and Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha. In addition, Russia and India are developing cooperation in the field of exploration and production of hydrocarbons on the Arctic shelf. Since 2017, Russian Gazprom Neft and Indian Oil & Natural Gas Corporation have been focusing on exploration opportunities in the Dolginskoye field in the Pechora Sea in the European part of the Arctic Ocean. Another Russian company, Rosneft, and the Indian ONGC Videsh Ltd also develop Arctic offshore cooperation.
Suffice to say that the largest foreign investment in the Indian economy - at least so far this has been the case - came from Russia: our company Rosneft invested 23 billion dollars in the acquisition of an oil refinery, a network of gas stations, a port, etc. They also have a plan for the future: they want to build a factory and so on. Well, this is just one example, the President noted, keeping conversation with students.
At the end of 2023, the share of Russian crude oil imports increased 10 times, to 20% in the crude oil import basket, compared to 2021–2022. It is expected that in 2024 it will be 30%.
It is reasonable to consistently expand Indo-Russian interaction in the international arena, including promoting the strengthening of promising multilateral formats of cooperation, such as BRICS, which has already become one of the supporting pillars of the global architecture. It is important for the Russian side that India adheres to an independent foreign policy, which is not easy nowadays.
This is not just, you know, a statement - it is vital for joint work arrangements. It enables to predict the actions of our partners in the medium and longer term. This is important in practical work: can we trust the country or the leadership of the country whom we cooperate with, or tomorrow it will make decisions which do not even correspond to its national interests. Such “games” do not work with India – I assure you. There is a strong, nationally oriented leadership of the country, concluded the Russian leader.