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Russia Seeks China and India as Partners
Aug 19, 2014

Russia has signalled that its proposed giant gas pipeline to China could be extended to India, setting the stage for a triangular energy partnership among three core members of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping. 

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin, who was recently on a visit to India as President Vladimir Putin’s envoy, said, that the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to India would be “one of the largest infrastructure projects that could be conceived”. It is said that his anticipated meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Brazil during the BRICS summit next month, Vladimir Putin may propose the extension of the Russia-China gas pipeline to India. 

The move, if it materialises would feed into Russia’s discernable strategic shift towards the East, especially after the Ukrainian crisis, which has sent Russia’s ties with the Atlantic Alliance in a tailspin. Leveraging its position as a global energy supplier, Russia has already identified China as one of its core partners—its inclination evident in the $ 400 billion gas deal that it has signed with China. Rogozin said that his talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, yielded the formation of a Working Group on Strategic Issues that would focus on strategic projects. 

Though focused on the big picture, Mr. Rogozin’s talks did address the controversy generated by the proposed sales of Russian Mi-35 helicopters to Pakistan. He said, the transfers of the attack helicopters would not undermine stability in South Asia as a chance of a full-fledged war between the two nuclear neighbours is now inconceivable. Cash strapped Russia, apprehending an economic squeeze from members of the NATO alliance is looking at diversifying its oil and military exports. There has been an earlier occasion when the Russians wanted to sell helicopters to Pakistan, but India preempted the move by purchasing these aircraft for its own armed forces. 

The Indian side made it clear that the controversy on the helicopters would hardly impair ties. There will be possibility that a Joint Study Group would be formed that would analyse the possibility of India’s partnership with the Eurasian Economic Union—a body that is widely viewed, as Russia’s riposte to western led trade blocs.

Going beyond a buyer-seller relationship, India treats Russia as partner in co-developing weapons, which include joint forays in making a fifth generation fighter jet and a multi-role transport aircraft. Negotiations on establishing two more nuclear reactors in Kudankulum are underway, to fulfill an ambitious plan to set up 14 to 16 Russian designed nuclear power units in India.


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