India, Russia expected to hold annual summit next month

NEW DELHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to visit India next month for a bilateral summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that is expected to produce key outcomes to further boost ties in a plethora of areas including defence and security, people familiar with the development said on Friday.
Both sides have been holding talks to firm up the visit around the second week of December, they said.
It is learnt that Russia is set to make the delivery of the first batch of S-400 missile systems to India by the middle of next month.
Ahead of the summit, the two sides may also hold the inaugural two-plus-two foreign and defence ministerial dialogue in Moscow that is set to add new momentum to the overall ‘special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries.
It is learnt that the two sides are going to firm up a number of agreements in the areas of defence, trade and investment, and science and technology at the summit.
A framework for military-technical cooperation is set to be renewed for the next one at the summit besides announcing a joint commission on technology and science.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited India in April that was learnt to be aimed at preparing the ground for the annual India-Russia summit.
The summit was postponed last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both the countries have a mechanism under which India’s prime minister and the Russian president hold a summit meeting annually to review the entire gamut of ties.
So far 20 annual summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia.
Russia has been a time-tested partner for India and the country has been a key pillar of New Delhi’s foreign policy.
The two sides are likely to review the regional security scenario including the developments in Afghanistan at the summit.
Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev visited India in September as part of a follow-up to the telephonic conversation between Modi and Putin on the developments in Afghanistan.
Patrushev again visited India this week to attend the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan. Apart from Russia and India, the dialogue was attended by top security officials of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
At the dialogue, the eight participating nations vowed to work towards ensuring that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for global terrorism and called for the formation of an “open and truly inclusive” government in Kabul.
On the S-400 deal, the people cited above said both sides are committed to it.
In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite a warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
India made the first tranche of payment of around USD 800 million to Russia for the missile systems in 2019.
The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
Following US sanctions on Turkey, there have been apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures on India.
The supply of S-400 missiles to India by Russia are expected to begin later this year. —PTI

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