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 Rs 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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