India is very close to Russia. Few people in the west know this. The two countries have built close strategic, trade and cultural friendships ever since India gained independence.
So what? We’ll get to that soon.
The Russia relationship was reinforced this week when India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan said, “2019 was a landmark year which boosted the bilateral relations between India and Russia to hitherto unscaled heights.
The special and privileged strategic partnership between our two countries was strengthened significantly. Hon Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has described Russia as a reliable partner and a special friend and President Putin in turn has talked of taking India-Russia relations to new heights of cooperation.” He said.
Getting the picture? There’s much more.
He went on: “It is uncommon to find two major powers that have developed a partnership such as ours.”
He wants it to go much further.
Example one – coking coal – “We recognise the immense potential of Russia in supplying coking or metallurgical coal, which is largely imported by India, to support the Indian steel industry.”
Example two – inland and port logistics (does this remind you of Belt and Road?) – “I had requested Russian authorities to invest in developing the inland and port logistic of the Far East, improve connectivity of these ports with mining locations and improvements in evacuation infrastructure.”
Example three – oil and gas – “There is an ‘Energy Bridge’ between our two countries. With Russia being one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas and India being the world’s third largest energy consumer, Russia has the potential to become an important source to fulfil India’s oil and gas requirements.”
Example four – investment – “We invite investments by Russian companies in Indian oil and gas sector, particularly in gas business, gas infrastructure and petrochemicals.”
Example five – sea routes – “We are keen to explore the new sea route to source crude oil and LNG through Russia’s Arctic. A sea line between Far-East Russia and the East coast of India will also facilitate sourcing of coking coal from the region.”
Example six – crude oil – “We are working on the strategy to diversify our crude oil supply sources and we are now exploring ways to import crude from Russia as well.”
While many countries (such as Australia) have a black and white, goodies and baddies view of the world, India manages to live comfortably with multiple regimes. To get on with India and do the deals we want, we (Australia) need to adopt some of this thinking.
Let’s work on the answer to this one – what does the India-Russia relationship, one of the closest on the planet, mean for the rest of us?