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How far could Russia, India ties go further – analysis

World

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ended his two-day visit to Moscow on Monday, taking home packages of agreements ranging from jointly exploring the Moon, developing transport and military aircraft to cracking down on drug trafficking and building nuclear energy reactors.

The mood seems good and the targets vivid. But there’s still something Moscow and New Delhi differ with, which could hinder their pushy strive.

Economic, trade ties improved
Russia and India have set the target of boosting two-way trade volume to $10 billion in 2010. “We believe that it is not the limit and volumes could be much bigger,” Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov told Singh in a Monday meeting. In fact, Russian-Indian trade has topped $2.1 billion in the H1 of this year, up 38% compared with the same period of 2006, when the annual figure was $3.9 billion. Arrays of big joint projects have been carried out, such as building a nuclear reactor in India, exploring gas field in Russia’s far east Sakhalin and in the Bay of Bengal, utilizing Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system and developing multi-purpose transport plane and a new generation of military aircraft. However, analysts believe cooperation between small and medium-sized companies and in the private sectors has lagged off, which, along with Russia’ complex visa procedure, could dampen the further development of two-way trade and investment, as well as tourism.

Military cooperation enhanced
India has played as Russia’s key partner, not only in arms trade, but also in military technology. Russia’s arms exports to India has accounted for some 30 percent in the total volume. The trade list stretches from Su-30 fighters, T-90 tanks to Mi-17 helicopters and frigates. Russia will also help India to upgrade an aircraft carrier. “We paid special attention to cooperation in the nuclear field and military-technological cooperation,” President Vladimir Putin said after his talks with Singh in the Kremlin. “The agreement signed earlier today on joint work to create a multi-purpose cargo plane, just as the one concluded earlier on cooperation in producing a multifunctional fifth generation fighter-plane open up new prospects for military-technological and industrial cooperation in some very sensitive spheres,” he said. Meanwhile, as efforts to diversify arms imports and avoid over-dependence on Russian technology, India has in recent years speed up buying of weapons from other countries such as the United States, Israel and South Africa. Such attempts, as well as India’s closer ties with the United States and india’s stance on the US anti-missile plans in central Europe, have annoyed Kremlin and will shadow future cooperation, analysts said.

International stance coordinated
Russia-India relations are characterized with identical or close positions on topical international problems, particularly Afghanistan, Iraq, the Iranian nuclear program and the Middle East situation, said a Kremlin source, commenting on Singh’s visit. During the visit, the two leaders reiterated the role of the United Nations and the must of adhering to international laws in settling crisis. They also pledged to jointly strike against terrorism, crime and drug trafficking. Russia and India will also further cooperate in multilateral frameworks such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the two leaders said. “We see big prospects for stepping up relations within the tripartite format - Russia, India and China, as well as within the quadripartite format - Russia, India, China and Brazil.” Putin said, noting trilateral cooperation between Russia, India and China are promising. Singh, however, said nothing about Washington’s plans to deploy anti-missile components in central Europe which has aroused fierce opposition from Moscow. Such a silence, observer said, will intensify Russia’s worry that New Delhi may go farther with Washington. (people.com.cn)

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