India - Russia: The Geo-Politics and Geo-Economics of the Relationship
STORIES, ANALYSES, EXPERT VIEWS
For the first time, Russia has become one of the five largest trading partners of India. The volume of trade between the two countries reached $38.4 billion in 2022.
Visit by Igor Sechin: big breakthrough in relations
Russia’s oil sales to India played a big part in this dynamism on the trade front. Russia’s energy tsar Igor Sechin recently visited Delhi, following which an announcement was made in Moscow that Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil producer (whose share in global oil production is 6 per cent) has signed with IOC a term agreement to substantially increase oil supplies as well as diversify the grades to India.
Sechin discussed with Indian officials ‘ways of expanding cooperation between Rosneft Oil Company and Indian companies in the entire value chain of the energy sector, including possibilities of making payments in national currencies.’
According to MK Bhadrakumar (Former Ambassador) "this is undoubtedly a big breakthrough in India’s relations with Russia. It signals that the government has effectively — quietly but firmly — pushed back the western pressure on India to roll back cooperation with Russia….”
Bhadrakumar emphasises “different from classical geopolitical disputes, today’s conflicts are taking place in a highly interdependent world economy. Geoeconomics, as a relatively new concept, urges us to think beyond paradigmatic geopolitical imaginaries in many aspects of the international sphere. The inscrutable ways in which globalised networks of corporate power and control can be weaponised, manipulated and ‘instrumentalised’, challenge and, at the same time, complement geopolitics.”
Visit by Alexei Chekunkov
The visit by Alexei Chekunkov, Russian Minister for the Development of the Far East and Arctic, has been another milestone in Russian-Indian relations. Following his visit, it was announced in Delhi that discussions took place for ‘operationalising’ the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor, a futuristic initiative stemming out of PM Modi’s visit to Russia in 2019. The Indian Ports and Shipping Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, who made this announcement, further revealed that discussions also took place regarding cargo transportation along the Northern Sea Route as well as container shipments between the Russian Far East and Indian ports.
In such a complex scenario, where geoeconomics and geopolitics intersect, Bhadrakumar concludes “Chekunkov’s visit signifies Kremlin’s prioritisation of India as a key partner for the development of Russian Far East, although China is manifestly keen to connect the Arctic to its Belt and Road Initiative.”