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India – Old and New Allies
Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R).

India – Old and New Allies

Al-Etihad, UAE, September 16

 

In the past six years, India has been getting closer to the United States. At the same time, however, it ensured continued relations with its old allies. Last week, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Russia. The main purpose of the visit was to revitalize the economic relations that had been declining between the two countries, which were close allies during the Cold War. Certainly, Modi’s visit laid the groundwork for building economic relations between the two nations, in an attempt to expand their scope of trade, which in recent years depended only on weapons and oil sales. India has provided Russia with a $1 billion credit line to develop the Far East. A joint manufacturing agreement for defense parts was signed in India, along with nearly a dozen other agreements. The agreement involves technology transfers and joint ventures under the “Made in India” program, which aims to boost India’s manufacturing sector. In the last decade, India has become closer to the United States, while Russia has moved closer to China and has also begun defense cooperation with Pakistan, including the supply of helicopters. India’s efforts to maintain its relationship with Russia demonstrates that Delhi is keen to maintain the relationship it has experienced over time with other countries. But the two countries have many areas to cover. India’s trade with Russia remains weak compared to India’s trade ties with America or China. Trade between India and the United States reached $142.1 billion in 2018, while it stood at a mere $11 billion with Russia. Trade between India and China over the same period was $95.54 billion. It seems that the time has come for both nations to consider diversifying their relationship through economic ties. There is political will between them and there is certainly greater interest in advancing relations from the Russian point of view. Russia faces sanctions from the West and the European Union, so it is looking to other markets. India has so far shown that despite its proximity to the United States, it will try to maintain its previous ties with Russia. There is no doubt that the political will shown by the leadership of the two countries will help to change the relationship from a buyer-seller one to a more cooperative relationship. Under a changing world order, India certainly needs to develop and maintain relations with all old allies and new friends. –Zikru al-Rahman

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