By Andrea Berman
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met at the BRICS Summit in Benaulim, India, on October 15 to sign a new defense agreement.
Russia and India have been strengthening their relations with one another since the Cold War. Reuters reports that as a product of continued cooperation, Russia signed an agreement with India at the summit, pledging that Russia would invest $12.9 billion into India’s defense and energy program in return for access to Indian port facilities and a controlling stake in India’s Essar Oil company.
Russia and India announced that through this new agreement, the two countries would work together to fulfill India’s plans of attaining helicopters, surface-to-air missile systems, and stealth frigates, courtesy of Moscow.
The deal adopted at the BRICS summit states that a group under the Russian organization, Rosneft, will be in control of 98 percent of India’s Essar Oil. Additionally, to work with all the oil, Russia will also have access to running 400,000 barrels a day through an Indian refinery port at Vadinar. The privileges are all encompassed in the $12.9 billion exchange between the countries.
To come up with funding, the Russian state bank, VTB, Rosneft and its partners, and oil trader, Trafigura, are combining efforts and funds to afford the agreement with India. In combination with the monetary value, Russia is also planning on building up to a dozen nuclear reactors in India over the next 20 years to back India’s growth strategy to be Asia’s third-largest economy.
The Indian Express reported that other aspects of the BRICS agreement include Indian and Russian joint plans to build at least 200 helicopters and to lease another Russian nuclear submarine to India. Building other military equipment such as S-400 surface-to-air missiles and stealth frigates is also proposed as a way for India to strengthen its border security with Pakistan and China.
The dynamic that Russia and India each have with Pakistan influences the relationship that Russia and India have among themselves as well. As Russia Direct reported, Russia is continuing its military drills with Pakistan, evoking a negative reaction from India.
Vyacheslav Trubnikov, a board member of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, however, disclosed to Russia Direct that there is no need for India to worry about Russia’s military relations with Pakistan, insisting that is has no effect on Russia’s relations with India.
On the other hand, Trubnikov does admit that Russia chose a poor time to engage in the military drills, since it directly followed the border clashes in Kashmir. Since the attack was carried out from Pakistani territory against Indian border guards, Trubnikov states that it would have been better to wait for the turmoil to decrease as to not endanger the relationship between Russia and India by supporting Pakistani military directly after this attack on India.
Similar concerns were expressed to RT regarding the suspicious timing of the Russian military drills with Pakistan. Newsweek reported that Russia was reluctant to disclose information about its military drills with Pakistan. Former speaker of the State Duma Sergey Naryskin explains that India need not consider Russia’s cooperation with Pakistan as a hindrance, as the relations between Russia and India are separate from that of Russia and Pakistan.