Russia and India renewed their close ties at an annual meeting Saturday signing several cooperation agreements and deals worth over $5 billion. Russian President Vladimir Putin met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the state of Goa in western India on the sidelines of the eighth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit.
Russia and India have had close ties since the Cold War era when the U.S. had moved in favor of Pakistan, India’s neighbor and rival. Saturday’s meeting resulted in the signing of several agreements including two key defense deals during the two-hour bilateral talks between the two nations. The deals included one worth $5 billion, which allowed the procurement of Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft defense system, the S 400 Triumph.
Modi called the meeting a “highly productive” one, saying, “They [the outcomes of the meeting] also lay the foundations for deeper defense and economic ties in years ahead. The agreements on manufacturing of Kamov 226T helicopters; constructions of frigates; and acquisition and building of other defense platforms are in synergy with India’s technology and security priorities.”
India is the world’s biggest defense importer and according to the country’s defense ministry, nearly 70 percent of its equipment comes from Russia. New Delhi is also procuring equipment from the U.S., France and Israel as part of the $100 billion modernization of its military hardware.
After the signing of the various deals, Putin and Modi jointly unveiled an e-plaque commemorating the foundation work of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the state of Tamil Nadu in southeastern India. The plant is one of the 12 nuclear power stations Russia is building in India.
The meeting also had the two leaders discussing their various concerns, which cropped up over the years including Russia’s concerns of India looking at other markets for its defense equipment, Russia’s ties with India’s rival Pakistan and India’s close ties with the U.S.
India's Modi assured Putin of their long-standing ties, saying, “An old friend is better than two new friends.” He added that the meeting reinforced the “special and privileged nature of India-Russia ties.”