View from Delhi: Why India’s engagements with Russia matter?

12:11 09.07.2024 •

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets in his residence Novo Ogarevo Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, July 8, 2024.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow on July 8-9 for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit is significant in many aspects. This is his first bilateral visit since starting his third term as India’s prime minister. Modi’s visit to Italy shortly after coming back to power was to participate in the G7 Summit, a multilateral event.

For its part, Kremlin maintains that Modi’s visit will be an extensive one and no topic would be off-limits in the meeting between Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin, notes ‘The Times of India’.

Modi’s visit to Russia not only emphasizes the importance of Russia for India, it also highlights how India is navigating through the fragmented world order as this bilateral meeting is being held between two summits that represent two opposing groups.

Despite Russia facing economic and strategic challenges, its importance is not lost on India. While continuing to be a major supplier of defence equipment and energy to India, Russia is also collaborating with India on connectivity projects. India and Russia are involved in the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). This project would allow India to reach out to Central Asia and Eurasia. The INSTC is also being linked to the Chabahar Port project which would enhance India’s connectivity with the landlocked Central Asian countries.

These engagements imply that India is proactively courting Russia, the Central Asian countries as also Iran. Engaging with these countries on bilateral basis or through the connectivity projects like the INSTC and the Chabahar Port is a means for India to counter China. Also closer interaction with India allows these countries to diversify their engagements instead of depending mainly on China. India’s stand on Russia is also beneficial for the western countries.

From a broad perspective the SCO and the Nato are placed in the opposing spectrums from the perspectives of ideology and their respective world views. However, from specific point of view, the SCO stands out as an anti-West organization that opposes spread of western ideas of democracy and rules-based order. It implies that the SCO represent group of countries that resist western countries and any institutions based on the norms formulated by the western countries.

Nato, carrying the legacy of the Cold War, still perceives Russia as a principal threat. The Russia-Ukraine war has only exacerbated this perception in the West. However, Nato has been reluctant to view China in the same light as Russia, to a certain extent, even though China presents a greater strategic and economic challenge to the West as well as its like-minded partners.


Modi’s visit to Moscow underscores the stability in the India-Russia ties despite facing challenges in the past two years. The Russia-Ukraine war had tested the India-Russia relations as the western countries, particularly the (US) directly and indirectly put pressure on India to restrict its engagements with Russia. However, India has successfully balanced its ties with the West as well as Russia. India’s nimble-footed diplomacy in the conflict-ridden world could become a major factor in initiating peace in the future.


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