Background, Soviet Days, Economic and Political, Present and Defence Ties

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  • India had strong ties during the days of the Soviet Union
  • 1971: Treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation
  • Strong defence ties
  • After the breakup of the SU, when Boris Yelstein came into power, he showed little interest in continuing the ideology based special relationship of the Soviet times.
    • Hence, relations and cooperation during this period plummeted
  • When Putin came into power, he revived the relations.

Soviet Days

  • India was heavily dependent on the erstwhile Soviet Union economically as well as politically
  • Trade turnover between the two countries had risen to ₹ 8000 crores (that time prices) by 1990
  • India՚s exports to USSR stood at more than 16 % of Indian exports
  • Imports from USSR constituted 6 % of the country՚s gross imports
  • Soviet assistance accounted for the building of key sectors of Indian economy
  • At one stage Soviet contribution accounted for
    • 36 % of the metal production in India
    • 32 % of the oil produced
    • 47 % of the power generating equipment
    • 43 % of mining equipment
  • At the time of its disintegration, Soviet was the source of about 70 % of India՚s defence supplies


  • Soviet provided credit to India without conditionalities
  • India could repay loans by exporting commodities
  • Soviet exported India heavy industrial products in exchange for consumer goods


  • SU had been extending support to India by using veto in its favour on the Kashmir question
  • sided with it when the Sino-Indian border dispute arose
  • Countered American Seventh Fleet in the Bay of Bengal in 1971
  • Supplied India sophisticated weapons and weapon technology
  • Trained Indian personnel for setting up production facilities in the country
  • India, on its part, refused to condemn SU when it invaded non-aligned Afghanistan

Post-Soviet Changes in India՚s Foreign Policy

  • India lost a major destination for export and economic assistance
  • India had a major shift in its foreign policy: Look East, increased cooperation with US
  • India became a nuclear power. This altered India՚s position at the world stage
  • There has been a rightward tendency in India՚s foreign policy
  • Nehruvian consensus is perhaps not the basis of India՚s foreign policy now
  • < Nehruvian consensus consisted of three pillars: socialism, secularism and India՚s leadership of the non-aligned world >
  • India՚s principle of non-alignment has lost its old sway
  • Increased strategic cooperation with US
  • Indo-US nuclear deal
  • Move towards a balanced relationship with major powers and a durable and equitable multilateral global order
  • India՚s foreign policy now has a strong multilateral aspect
  • Thanks to its growing economic status, India has come to acquire a key role for addressing the challenges to the revival of global economy
  • India՚s stand on issues related to climate change, nuclear proliferation and global terrorism has demonstrated that it has the ability even to take a stand that is independent of the major powers

Present Ties

  • Declaration of Strategic Partnership, 2000
  • The two countries have expanded defence cooperation
  • Political contacts have been revived through the mechanism of annual bilateral summits
  • India companies have gained a foothold in Russia in the energy sector with ONGC-VL acquiring a stake in Sakhalin oil and gas field. It has also bought a Russian oil company, Imperial Energy
  • They have setup multilateral forums
  • The Russia-India-China (RIC) and BRIC

Defence Ties

  • During Soviet days SU was the largest supplier of defence equipment՚s to India for several decades
  • Russia still remains a large supplier of defence equipment to India
    • Skohoi
    • Mig
    • Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya)
  • But the relationship has now expanded to include joint R&D, training, service to service contacts, including joint exercise
  • Inter-Governmental Commission on military-technical cooperation
  • Joint ventures
    • Fifth General Fighter Aircraft
    • Multirole transport aircraft
    • Brahmos
    • Sukhoi Su-30MKI (to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics)
    • Ilyushin/HAL Tachtical Transport Aircraft
    • T-50 stealth fighter
  • The Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan is jointly operated by India and Russia
  • There have been some recent issues in defence cooperation though
    • In May 2011, Russia cancelled joint army and naval exercises with India allegedly in response to the elimination of Mikoyan MiG-35 from the Indian ICRA competition.

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