India great power, time-tested friend of Russia: Putin



New Delhi: Describing India as a “great power” and a “time-tested” friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday identified terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime as common challenges facing both countries.
In his initial remarks during in-person talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, Putin also expressed concern over the developments in Afghanistan and said India and Russia will continue to coordinate on major challenges facing the region.
“We perceive India as a great power, a friendly nation and a time-tested friend. The relations between our countries are developing and we are looking into the future,” Putin said.

India, Russia ink 28 pacts

New Delhi: India and Russia on Monday inked 28 agreements to further broad-base their partnership and vowed to expand cooperation and coordination in dealing with major challenges like the threat of terrorism and the unfolding situation in Afghanistan. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla described the summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin as “highly productive”. He said 28 agreements that included government-to-government pacts were concluded between the two sides in a number of areas. Asked whether India raised the issue of the eastern Ladakh standoff, the foreign secretary only said all concerns relating to India’s security were discussed.

Modi said Putin’s second visit abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic reflected his personal commitment to the India-Russia ties and that the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two sides was getting stronger.
In the last few decades, the world witnessed many fundamental changes and different kinds of geopolitical equations and variables, but the friendship of India and Russia remained constant, Modi said.
“Your visit to India is a reflection of your commitment to ties with India,” the prime minister said.
Putin said both sides continue to cooperate on global issues and the positions of the two sides on many issues have similarities.
“Naturally, we are concerned about everything that has to do with terrorism. I mean the fight against terrorism and the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime,” Putin said. “In this regard, of course, we cannot but be concerned about the situation and how it is developing in Afghanistan,” he said.
The Russian leader also referred to growing cooperation between India and Russia in areas of environment, trade and investment and high technology among others.
“In 2020, we observed a decline in trade turnover by more than 17 per cent. The first nine months of this year, the growth was already more than 38 per cent,” he said.
“This also applies to investment activities. Now 38 billion (dollars) is roughly equally distributed, with slightly more investment from the Russian side.
“But we do cooperate, we are working in very important, promising areas — these are energy, high technologies and space. And I am sure that the programmes we spoke about will be implemented, including the training of an Indian cosmonaut,” Putin said.
The Russian leader, who was here on a very short trip for the summit, said he was “so very happy to be able to visit the friendly country of India.”
The summit talks took place hours after the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries held their inaugural ‘2+2’ dialogue with an aim to widen the ambit of discussions on strategically important issues.
The day began with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu under the framework of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC).
Separately, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Then the foreign and defence ministers of the two sides held the ‘2+2’ dialogue.
Lavrov and Shoygu arrived here late Sunday night.
At the end of the talks between the defence ministers, both sides inked an agreement for joint production of over six lakh AK-203 assault rifles at a manufacturing facility in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi, besides firming up another pact on military cooperation for 10 years. The rifles will be manufactured for the Indian armed forces at a cost of around Rs 5,000 crore.
The agreements were signed at the 20th meeting of the IRIGC-M&MTC.