A joint seminar on India – Russia relations was organized by the VIF and IDSA on May 14, 2012. Amb. Prabhat Shukla, Jt. Director, VIF, (Former Ambassador to Russia) in his Key Note address emphasized that India and Russia should resort to candid dialogue to sort out any concerns arising out Russia’s relations with China and Pakistan and India’s relations with the US. Highlighting the two countries’ relations with neighbour Afghanistan, he said that no two other nations’ interests converge more upon Afghanistan than that of India and Russia. However, not much has been done on this front even as the 2014 withdrawal approaches.
While applauding solidity of defence cooperation between Russia and India, Amb. Shukla cautioned Russia of aligning its export policy more with that of the west of late, saying it could be a mistake on the part of Russia to do so. Amb. Shukla further suggested a four-way swap to boost trade relations between the two nations, by also involving Japan and the Gulf. He also advocated greater involvement of the Private sector of both the nations to bolster nuclear relations between the two countries.
Also speaking on the occasion was Dr. Alexander Lukin, Vice President, Diplomatic Academy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation, who said that Russia was going through an important transitional phase with internal changes within the country and with recent governments initiating numerous reforms, it is now more stable than it was in the 1990s.
Dr Lukin added that Russia’s foreign policy has become more consistent and pragmatic. “It is neither pro-west nor pro-east”, he said.
Terming India as an important strategic partner, he concluded that more informal meetings between the two nations would play a crucial role in fostering better understanding and improving trade relations between the two nations.
Earlier, welcoming the participants, Director General, IDSA, Dr Arvind Gupta hoped that the seminar would prove beneficial in discussing Indian and Russian perspectives on Indo- Russian relations against the backdrop of emerging global challenges. Dr Gupta said that the geopolitical scene is gradually shifting from west to east, adding that despite the contours not being well defined, India, Russia and China in particular are emerging as important players.
Dr Gupta said that though Indo-Russian relations have gone from strength to strength, especially since President Vladimir Putin took over, energy and defence cooperation can be strengthened even more for a better future.