New Delhi (Associated Press)-Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss defense and trade relations as India tries to balance relations with the United States.
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the agenda of the annual summit includes political and national defense issues. It is expected that the two countries will sign a number of agreements, especially in the areas of trade and defense.
India and Russia have a long and close relationship. But recently, India has narrowed its distance with the United States, which it believes is vital to confronting China. India and China had a months-long military standoff on the disputed border in eastern Ladakh, where deadly clashes broke out last year.
At the same time, Russia expressed reservations about the establishment of the four countries, a group composed of the United States, India, Japan, and Australia, in response to China’s growing self-confidence in the Indo-Pacific region.
While strengthening its military relations with the United States, India is trying to resolve its defense relations with Russia. India and Russia are discussing and may sign a 10-year military technology agreement that may help transfer new technology to India.
India was the main buyer of military equipment and relied heavily on the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. But it also diversified its procurement by choosing American equipment. During Donald Trump’s presidency, the United States and India reached a defense deal worth more than $3 billion. Bilateral defense trade increased from nearly zero in 2008 to 15 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
India’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system, which it believes is vital to countering China, may stimulate India-US relations.
Washington has asked its partners to stay away from Russian military equipment to avoid possible sanctions.
India and Russia are also expected to strengthen trade agreements. They have set a goal of reaching 30 billion U.S. dollars in bilateral trade by the end of 2025.